KNOWLES, William
(Service number 10742)

Aliases Willie
First Rank Corporal Last Rank


Date 8 December 1888 Place of Birth Malham, Yorkshire, England

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment Martinborough
Occupation Stock agent
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin R. KNOWLES (father), Geraldine, Canterbury
Religion Anglican
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 1st New Zealand Cyclist Company
Date 6 May 1916
Transport Mokoia
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 28 March 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service. On account of wounds received in action (GSW both eyes).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Sugar cane plantation manager


Date 28 April 1961 Age 72 years
Place of Death Queensland, Australia
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Knowles, known as Willie, was born on 8 December 1888 at Malham, Yorkshire, the second of the three sons of Richard and Mary Ann (née Brennand) Knowles. One-year-old William was at home with his family in 1891, at Kirkby Malham where his father farmed. In 1899 the family came out to New Zealand and took a farm on the Geraldine Downs. After four years, Mr Knowles purchased a sheep run in the Four Peaks district, and there the family lived for many years. “The horses attached to one of the Geraldine-Orari coaches got free from their moorings at Oran a few days ago and bolted with the empty coach along the Raukapuka road towards Geraldine. The runway was stoppd in a very plucky manner by a lad named W. Knowles, who was driving some sheep on the road near Mr Kennedy’s blacksmith shop. Young Knowles left his sheep and rode ahead of the runaway and shouted for assistance at Kennedy’s, and the horses were eventually brought to a standstill. Very little damage was done to either the coach or harness.” [Temuka Leader, 20 April 1905.] Both William and his brother George competed for the Geraldine Morris Tube Shooting Club. William was a stock agent for Guinness and LeCren at Temuka in 1911.

When William enlisted, he was a stock agent at Martinborough. Both William and his younger brother George named their father as next-of-kin – R. Knowles, Geraldine. Corporal W. Knowles embarked with the 1st New Zealand Cyclist Company, leaving from Wellington for Suez, Egypt, on 6 May 1916 per the “Mokoia”. In early November 1918, Mr R. Knowles received word that his son, Corporal W. Knowles, had been wounded in the face and admitted to hospital in France. At the same time George Knowles had been transferred from hospital to a convalescent camp. A later telegram from Base Records Office, stated that Corporal Knowles had been transferred to an English hospital five days after his admission to the French hospital.

Corporal W. Knowles, Geraldine, returned to New Zealand per the “Zealandia” (Draft 217) which arrived at Wellington on 28 February 1919. His father received word a week earlier that Willie was being invalided home. Arrangements had been made to give the men a heart welcome home when they reached Temuka. Corporal Willie Knowles and a few comrades received a hearty welcome back from the war at a private residence at Geraldine Downs, at “what will probably prove to be the last of a long series of send-offs and welcome homes among the hillrnen” at the end of September 1919. The chairman, who had officiated at many of these occasions, said “he was very pleased to he present to welcome home the same men whom he had helped to send away. . . . The toast of the returned men was cordially honoured, and each of the men spoke in reply, all agreeing they were glad to be home again.” Mr G. Knowles, Mr W. Knowles, Mr and Mrs Knowles, and Miss Knowles were all invited to the Soldiers’ Peace Ball hosted by the Geraldine Home and Empire League in October 1919. The name of Corporal Willie Knowles, 13th Reinforcements, appeared in the Temuka Leader’s Active Service List from January 1917.

He was discharged on 28 March 1919, no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action (gunshot wounds to both eyes). While William Knowles was recorded as a soldier at Geraldine in 1919, he went awayin the 1920s to Quuensland, Australia, to manage the sugar cane plantation of his uncle, Dr Knowles. He died on 28 April 1961 in Queensland, aged 72 years. He was surivived by his younger brother George and his only his sister, Elizabeth, who died unmarried in 1971. Of his two brothers who both served in the war, John died of pneumonia in December 1918 in England and George died in October 1961 at Geraldine. Mrs Mary Ann Knowles died on Christmas Day 1927 at the family home, “Airedale”, Four Peaks; and Mr Richard Knowles died there on 20 October 1937.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [06 October 2021]; 1891 England census return ( [11 October 2021]; Temuka Leader, 20 April 1905, 7 March 1911, 6 January 1917, 7 November 1918, 22 February 1919, 1 March 1919, 30 September 1919, 28 October 1919, 31 December 1927, Timaru Herald, 22 February 1919, 27 December 1927, Press, 7 & 8 November 1918, 21 October 1937 (Papers Past) [11 & 12 October 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [06 October 2021]; Queensland, Australia, Death Index [06 October 2021]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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