Harold George Knibbs, 1913-1998 - My Dad!

Last updated March 29th, 2003

Harold George Knibbs, my father, was born in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England on 21 Nov 1913. Whilst not known other than locally for his musical talent, he was instrumental in forming the first orchestra at the Fairfields Boys' School in Basingstoke. He went on to play for the Basingstoke Methodist Chapel Orchestra and was amongst the first members of the Basingstoke Orchestral Society (BSO) when it was formed in 1930. To quote from the BSO's web pages, "in analysing the present status of the Orchestra one has to realise that it is the pioneers who have gone before, both players and conductors, who have paved the way". Harold was one of those pioneers and would be proud to know that it is still performing successfully today.
Harold was a keen violinist from a very young age. His first violin cost him 7s.6d (37.5 pence or 50 US cents in today's money). He spotted it in a second-hand shop and saved his pocket money over many months but still couldn't quite afford it. His older sister Winifred, who was working at that time, helped out and gave him the rest towards it.
At Christmas 1927, his music teacher, Mrs Atwell, at the Fairfields Boys' School in Basingstoke wrote to Harold expressing her appreciation for his help "so quickly and kindly given" in forming the new school orchestra, and presented him with a brand new music stand as a reward.
During his teens, Harold played violin in the Methodist Chapel Orchestra in Basingstoke and in 1930, at the age of 17, he joined the newly formed Basingstoke Orchestral Society. On 5th April 1932, he played 1st Violin in their Concert at the Town Hall, Basingstoke.
During the war years, especially whist he was a prisoner of war in Germany and Italy between 1941 and 1945, he continued to play his violin at camp concerts. Sadly, for whatever reason, after the war was over, he never ever played his violin again. Harold's first violin remains as one of my family treasures.
Harold was also a very keen cricketer and in his late teens-early 20's, he played cricket for the "Co-op" (Co-operative Wholesale Society) where he worked as a baker. He never played at any higher level but his claim to fame was that he knew John Arlott, the famous cricket broadcaster. They both grew up in the same neighbourhood and John was just a year younger than Harold. It made Harold's day when in the 80's, my wife met John Arlott and mentioned she was Harold Knibbs' daughter-in-law. Harold was over the moon that John remembered him well from those early days, growing up together in Basingstoke.

Harold enlisted in the army at the outset of World War II. He volunteered for service in the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Tank Regiment as a Driver/Mechanic, driving mainly Churchill and Matilda Tanks. He enlisted on 27 Jun 1940 at Farnborough, Hampshire. Please visit Harold's Military Service page.


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