James Arthur KNIBBS, son of Henry KNIBBS and Rosannah DIMMICK , was born 19 March 1885 in Braunston, Northamptonshire, England. He married Olive STOKES 21 May 1915 in Braunston, Northamptonshire, England. He died bet. October and December, 1963 in Ealing District, London, Middlesex, England. Olive STOKES was born 23 November 1892 in Tipton, Staffordshire, England. She died bet. July and September, 1949 in Ealing District, London, Middlesex, England.

Children of James Arthur KNIBBS and Olive STOKES are:
1. Olive KNIBBS, b. 06 January 1922 See Ernest G MORLEY & Olive KNIBBS OR John A GIRLING & Olive KNIBBS
2. Rose KNIBBS, b. 10 February 1924 See William J JAMES & Rose KNIBBS
3. Blanch KNIBBS, b. 30 August 1926 See Thomas LAWRENCE & Blanch KNIBBS
4. Violet KNIBBS, b. 23 December 1927 See Norman Cyril BARTLETT & Violet KNIBBS
5. Arthur Richard KNIBBS, b. 10 October 1929 See Arthur Richard KNIBBS & June Muriel HUGGINS
6. Florence Fanny KNIBBS, b. 24 March 1917 See John JONES & Florence Fanny KNIBBS
7. Male KNIBBS, b. bet. January and March, 1918
8. Female KNIBBS, b. bet. January and March, 1918
9. James KNIBBS, b. 05 April 1919

Marriage Notes for James Arthur KNIBBS\Olive STOKES:

James with his wife Olive at the wedding of their daughter Olive in 1945

Notes for James Arthur KNIBBS:

Also known as: Arthur

James, estimated to have been taken in 1944/45 at one of his daughters' weddings. (click to enlarge)

James' dad Henry, third from the left, with his five sons (from left to rigjht) Thomas, Henry, William, Edward and James Arthur. (click to enlarge)

James can be seen at the 1901 census living with his brother Thomas, his mother, and Thomas' wife and son, all at Water Eaton, Buckinghamshire, England. I believe James is using his second name Arthur:

Hanah D Knibbs Wife M 50 Staffordshire Stoke
Thomas Knibbs Head M 27 Canal Boatman Warwickshire Ratford
Rosina Knibbs Wife M 24 Middlesex Harefield
Albert Edward Knibbs Son 3 Middlesex Harefield
Arthur Knibbs Son S 16 Assistant on Canal Boat Northampton Bramstone

In 1911, we see Arthur living on the barge "Emily" mastered by his father, located at Fellows & Mortons Wharf, Northampton, Northamptonshire:
Henry Knibbs Master 75 Widower Boatman St Lukes Parish London
Arthur Knibbs Son 26 Single Boatman Braunston Northamptonshire
John Carter Mate 30 Single Boatman Shutlanger Northamptonshire

We know from Allen Knight that his paternal grandmother, Florence Fanny Knibbs, the first child of James and Olive, was born on the canalboat Lupin in 1917. The lupin is still in opertion today.

(Click on the image for more detail.)

We see James, Olive, daughter Florence and son Arthur, living at 215 Shop, Twickenham Road, Heston and Isleworth, Middlesex, at the time of the 1939 Register.
Living at the same address were Charles Chivers, 39, Sound Projectionist and Viewer Films, Lucy E Chivers, 35, Milliner, William J Tucker, 54, Shop Assistant and his wife Ellen L Tucker, 54.

Sources for James Arthur KNIBBS:

  1. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983 
  2. Personal Contact with Julie Sandra Knibbs, from Birth Certificate 
  3. 1901 British Census,
  4. 1939 Register,

Notes for Olive STOKES:

In 1901, we see Olive and her family living on a canal boat at Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire:
James Stokes Head 43 Mar Captain of Canal Boat Tipton Staffordshire
Olive Stokes Wife 43 Mar Oldbury Staffordshire
Samuel Stoikes Son 21 Barge Runcorn Cheshire
Sarahan Stokes Daur 16 Tipton Staffordshire
James Stokes Son 14 Barge Tipton Staffordshire
Edward Stokes Son 12 Tipton Staffordshire
Olive Stokes Daur 8 Tipton Staffordshire
Florey Stokes Daur 6 Tipton Staffordshire

In 1911, we see Olive with her parents at Isleworth, Middlesex, abourd the canal boat Gamba and Lilac:
James Stokes Master 53 Mar Naster of Canal Boat Tipton Staffordshire
Olive Stokes Wife 52 Mar (29 years) Oldbury Worcestershire
James Stokes Son 24 UnM Mate of Canal Boat Tipton Staffordshire
Olive Stoikes Daur 19 Steering Boat Tipton Staffordshire
Florry Stokes Daur 16 Steering Boat Tipton Staffordshire
Arthur Stokes Son 8 Brausnton Warwickshire
Samuel Stokes Grandson 3 Braunston Warwickshire

Olive married James Knibbs in 1915.

Sources for Olive STOKES:

  1. Rootsweb CANAL-PEOPLE Archives,
  2. FreeBMD, gave place of birth 
  3. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983 

Notes for Male KNIBBS:

Sources for Male KNIBBS:

  1. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983 

Notes for Female KNIBBS:

Sources for Female KNIBBS:

  1. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983 

Notes for James KNIBBS:

James in his late teens, windlass in hand, about to wind up the paddle on a lock. (click to enlarge)

In Memory of
Engineer Officer JAMES KNIBBS, 21
M.V. Innisdhu (Glasgow), Merchant Navy
who died
on 20 September 1940
Son of James Arthur and Olive Knibbs, of Islewoth, Middlesex. Alternative Commemoration - buried in St. Mary Hoo Churchyard.
Remembered with honour

James was the Engineering Officer on one of the few Barrage Balloon Vessels used by the military during WWII. They were generally drifters, trawlers or barges and their purpose was to fly the balloons in harbours and estuaries. These vessels would sail to a particular spot in an estuary, anchor and then let the balloon up to deter enemy aircraft from perhaps attacking a docks area. Trawlers and Drifters were often commandeered by the military to be adapted to fly barrage balloons.
All of them needed a flat deck area big enough to bed a balloon down and a winch that could be operated with relative ease for hauling down and letting up the balloon.
The vessels used were manned by a naval crew who dealt with all the nautical aspects and a small group of RAF men who dealt with the flying and maintenance of the balloon. Some aspects were overlapping and it seems the crews worked very well together as a team. Food was brought out to them by small boats and if the weather was very rough then they might not get fed for many hours.
German aircraft would try and drop sea-mines into the ocean in an attempt to sink shipping. In order for the mines to be most effective it was necessary for the German aircraft to fly very low. Using balloons as a defence was very effective as German aircraft found the targets they wanted to drop the mines in were well protected by balloons and they could not fly low enough to hit the target that they wanted to.

Naval-History.Net records that on 20 September, 1940, the British drifter INNISDHU (96grt) was sunk by German bombing one hundred yards west of Westward mine marking buoy, itself S 16 deg. W from Hole Haven Signal Tower. The crew of four was lost.
I believe Hole Haven Signal Tower may have been located on Canvey Island, within the Thames Estuary.

Depending on which data sources are checked, each shows a slight variation regarding the fate of the 96 ton drifter M.V. Innisdhu on Friday 20 September 1940. Some sources state that she was sunk by a German bomber approximately one hundred yards west of Westward mine marking buoy, which itself was located South 160 West from the Hole Haven Signal Tower. Other sources checked record that the little drifter struck a mine and sank in the Thames Estuary with the loss of all four crew members.

MV Innisdhu
built by P McGregor & Sons Kirkintilloch, Yard No 60
Engines by J & C G Bolinder, Stockholm
Last Name: INNISDHU (1935)
Previous Names: BEN OLLIVER (1923)
Propulsion: M2cy 2str hot-bulb 80bhp
Launched: Wednesday, 25/09/1912
Built: 1912
Ship Type: Coaster
Tonnage: 95grt 56nrt
Length: 65.6 feet
Breadth: 18.4 feet
Owner History:
Coasting Motor Shipping Ltd Glasgow
1919 John Summers & Sons Ltd, Chester
1922 Mackie & Co, Glasgow
1923 National Benzole Co Ltd, London
1935 Lloyds Albert Yard & Motor Packet Services, Southampton
1937 New Medway SP Co.
Status: Sunk - 20/09/1940

Designed by James Pollock, London (Project No 462) in 1911
Exploded and sank at Oldhaven on the Thames

I tried to find more of what the ship was used for but all I could find was that the New Medway Steam Packet Co. who owned it from 1937 onwards, was running services along the Kent Coast, up into East Anglia and across the English Channel to France. What services they were, I don't know, but get the feeling it may have included passengers as well as cargo. With just 4 crew members, I would guess that the Innisdhu was a small cargo vessel. At just 65 feet so similar in size to the canal boats that he was brought up with.

The UK, Shipping and Seamen WWI and WWII Rolls of Honour, 1914-1945 states that the Innisdhu was a Balloon Barrage.

Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at Find A Grave web site for recording the details, in memory of James.

The inscription on James' headstone reads:
20th SEPTEMBER 1940 AGE 21
"Thoughts drift back
to bygone days
Life moves on, Memory Stays"

Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at Find A Grave web site for recording the details, in memory of James.

Sources for James KNIBBS:

  1. Ancestry.com, England & Wales, Death Index: 1837-1983 
  2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission,