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Laid to Rest Far From Home

by Michael Ford last modified 16 Nov, 2015 12:30 PM

On Friday (13 November) in Stratford sub Castle, the self-sacrifice of an Australian soldier was commemorated 98 years after his death.

Steve Howarth, from New South Wales, brought soil from Australia to commemorate the life of his great-great-uncle, Joseph Knight, who enlisted to fight in Europe. Pte Knight was stationed at Codford at the time of his death in 1917.

The emotional service at St Laurence Church was led by the Vicar, Revd Tessa Mann. Contributors included John Glen MP, Steve Howarth, Joe Flick, also from New South Wales, Lt Col Malcolm Wells, an Australian Army Liaison Officer, and Lt Col David Luck, Co-ordinator for the British Army’s commemoration of the centenary of WW1.

Gallery here

Joe Flick laid a wreath and Steve Howarth poured Australian soil from a small urn onto Joseph’s grave in the churchyard.

Local schoolchildren from Stratford-sub-Castle Primary School and Councillor John Walsh also attended and witnessed the ceremony.

The commemoration had come about through emails exchanged between Revd Mann and Joe Flick over a number of months.

Speaking of Steve’s and Joe’s visit, the Revd Tessa Mann said, “It’s the first time any member of their community or family has been to the grave, and we’re so honoured to welcome them and have a special service of remembrance.”

Steve Howarth paid tribute to the care of the local community and the Vicar, and said, “I know now that I can go back and tell the family that Joe is being cared for. He’s now connected to his country.”

Lt Col Malcolm Wells said, “It was an enormous journey that Pte Knight took, just like so many of his comrades, some 417,000 Australians who served in the First World War.

“It’s great to be able to be here, to just remind the family... of his service to the nation.”

Lt Col David Luck said, “Today’s commemoration is very important. Not only because it’s the commemoration of the service of one individual, but it also ties up an awful lot to do with how much we, as a nation, owe to those who came from all four corners of the Earth to support what was then King and country.”

Joe Flick said, “It was just a very, very emotional day and I’m proud to have played my small part in the life of Joseph Knight.”

Joseph was one of three brothers. His two brothers were commended for their gallantry, but Joseph died in Salisbury Isolation Hospital of acute pneumonia, unable to complete his training. A letter written by his mother was read out in the service. She asked for news of him, not realising that her son had already died.

Pte Joseph Knight 6763, 13th Battalion Australian Imperial Force, 1895-1917.

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