Arthur Reginald KNIBBS, son of Henry Edward KNIBBS and Emily Newton WICKS , was born 12 September 1892 in King William's Town, Cape Province, South Africa. He married Florence Norton OAKESHOTT 17 November 1920 in East London, Cape Province, South Africa. He died 05 May 1963 in East London, Cape Province, South Africa. Florence Norton OAKESHOTT was born 12 February 1895 in East London, Cape Province, South Africa. She died 05 November 1969 in East London, Cape Province, South Africa.


Children of Arthur Reginald KNIBBS and Florence Norton OAKESHOTT are:
1. Owen Oakeshott KNIBBS, b. 02 June 1922 See Owen Oakeshott KNIBBS & Naureen Millicent BENNETT
2. Margaret Ruth KNIBBS, b. Private See Rupert John JACKSON & Margaret Ruth KNIBBS

Marriage Notes for Arthur Reginald KNIBBS\Florence Norton OAKESHOTT:

I'm told that Arthur proposed to Florence by letter from France during WWI (causing her famously to start blushing and run from the diner table).


Notes for Arthur Reginald KNIBBS:



Arthur wearing the uniform of the South African Infantry (click to enlarge).
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We can see on 2 Oct 1908, Arthur, his mother and four of his siblings sailed from London to the port of East London, South Africa aboard the ship GALEKA of The Union Castle Mail Steamship Company. They travelled 2nd Class:
Mrs E Knibbs 45
Mstr A R Knibbs 16
Mstr H Knibbs 13
Miss M Knibbs 7
Mstr N Knibbs 5
Miss I Knibbs 21

I'm assuming this was returning home to South Africa following a visit to family in England, but I also believe Arthur and Horace had been attending school in England from September 1907 until mid-1908.
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We're told by Owen Knibbs that Arthur Reginald Knibbs was wounded in the Battle of Delville Wood which took place between July and September, 1916, during WWI. After being wounded, he completed his wartime service in England censoring soldier's correspondence. He went back to South Africa in 1920 after being awarded an MBE.

Delville Wood was sometimes known as Devil's Wood, and the fighting there during the battle of the Somme was particularly ferocious. The majority of the wood was eventually taken by South African soldiers on the 15th of July 1916, and they held on grimly during numerous German counterattacks for six days, until they were relieved.
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'I SURVIVED DELVILLE WOOD ... '
The story of Second Lieutenant Arthur Knibbs, D Company; 1st South African Infantry Battalion, as written home to his then girlfriend, Florence:
Victoria and Albert Ward
4th London Gen Hospital
Denmark Hill
London 5th August, 1916
My dearest Girliewigs,

I am starting this letter early this week, so that I can tell you something about our scrap. First of all, must tell you how the poor wounded soldier is progressing. I have been here just on a fortnight now, the sister tells me that I am doing famously, my wound is healing up very well indeed.

Now for the news, on the 9th of July our Regiment was sent up to 'Bernafay Wood', which was supposed to have been the second line. Well before we had been there half an hour, the Manchesters (who were supposed to have been in the front line, 'Trones Wood') retired to our trenches. The Bosche [Germans] happened to spot this and simply poured shells into us. We were taken out after two days, and were given three days' rest. It was then when Mr Smith (Institute) was killed, poor fellow was hit by an aeroplane shell, which didn't explode. At dawn on the 14th [sic - should be 16th] we started out to attack Delville ('Devils', it should be) Wood.

The Bosche spotted us before we had even been there ten minutes, and oh what a time he gave us. We started driving them out of the wood immediately and in an hour we had them out. Their snipers did a lot of damage; they were well hidden up the trees. That night they tried a counter attack, but we gave them a warm time with our machine guns. Whenever it was quiet we dug holes and connected them, making a trench of it. The third day the enemy started shelling us very heavily, I knew then that we were finished and that we could not get reinforcements. My Captain (who was later killed) rushed past and told us to retire to our Headquarter trench. I had gone 50 yards when I got it in the elbow just as I stumbled in a shell hole (lucky fall for me, might have got it in the head). I didn't feel much pain at the time I was hit, but I felt awfully weak on account of the loss of blood. Ritches, a travellor [sic] at Dreyfus and Co, (Ronnie will know him) helped me on from there to the advance dressing station. I should never have got through without his assistance. It was a terrible job, trees were cut down in front of us, and shells bursting all round. At the dressing station it was worse, they bandaged me up and advised me to bolt for it. After having a bit of a rest I made a dash for it. Every fifty yards or so I rested. I shall never forget that run as long as I live. I saw men blown to pieces, and men lying wounded and killed all along the road.

When I arrived at the dressing station I collapsed, cried like a baby. They put me on a stretcher there, and I have been in bed ever since. Yesterday I got up for the first time, I have had quite a number of South Africans in to see me, they have been awfully good to me.

I must hurry up, for the Sister has started the dressings (the butcher shop I call it). Now before I close off, Girliewigs, I want to ask you to be a good girl and not worry. It will be two or three months before I will have to go back, and when I do get there the Old Bosche won't get me the second time.

I am awfully fed up waiting for my mail, I do miss your letters. I have spent hours writing this letter, and have still got Mother's letter to write.
With fondest love
I remain always your own loving
Arthur

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Artur was awarded the MBE in 1919 as part of King George V birthday honours.

The London Gazette Supplement, 3 June 1919 has the following entry under South African Forces:
To be Members of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order:
Knibbs, Lt. Arthur Reginald, S.A.I.


This relates to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)

See the Notable KNIBBS Page in honour of Arthur Reginald.
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Arthur is listed in the book named "Rollcall - The Story of Delville Wood" written by Mr Ian Uys:

Second Lieutenant A.R. KNIBBS - 1st SAI, D Coy - Wounded on the 18th July - Later awarded the MBE (Military Division) and mentioned in War Office Communiqu├ęs

Arthur's brother Horace was killed at Delville Wood.
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In 1951, Arthur Reginald Knibbs could be seen living at 16 Smuts Road, East London, Cape Province, South Africa
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Arthur visited the UK in 1956 and appeared to be travelling with a Mrs Knibbs, age 55, so born about 1901. The document states that she is married and a housewife, but so far as I'm aware, his only wife was Florence who was born in 1895. Certainly, that was the date calculated from when they travelled to England in 1960. I did wonder if perhaps it was his sister Marjorie who we know was born on 1901, but she had been married so wouldn't have been Mrs Knibbs anyway.

Name: Arthur KNIBBS
Date of departure: 23 August 1956
Port of departure: Southampton
Passenger destination port: Cape, South Africa
Passenger destination: Cape, South Africa
Date of Birth: 12 September 1892
Age: 64 (calculated from DOB)
Marital status: Married
Sex: Male

The following people with the same last name travelled on this voyag
Mrs KNIBBS

Ship: CAPETOWN CASTLE
Where bound: South Africa
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Arthur and Florence visited the UK in 1960:

Name: Arthur KNIBBS
Date of departure: 4 August 1960
Port of departure: Southampton
Passenger destination port: East London, South Africa
Passenger destination: East London, South Africa
Date of Birth: 12 September 1892
Age: 68 (calculated from DOB)
Marital status: Married
Sex: Male
Occupation: Retd

The following people with the same last name travelled on this voyag

Florence KNIBBS

Ship: EDINBURGH CASTLE
Master's name: Stoakley
Where bound: South Africa
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Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at the eGGSA Branch of The Genealogical Society of South African for recording the details on their web site in memory of Arthur and Florence.

Arthur is commemorated on Panel 21 of the East London, Cambridge Crematorium.

Sources for Arthur Reginald KNIBBS:

  1. Cape Archives Death Notice, for Henry Edward Knibbs 
  2. FindMyPast.com, Passenger list 
  3. Personal Contact with Natasha Hartlett-Von Aulock,
  4. Personal Contact with Jennifer Jackson,
  5. Cremation Register, Cambridge Crematorium, East London, Gave year and place 
  6. Cremation Register, East London,
  7. London Gazette,
  8. Death Register,
  9. LDS - South Africa, Church of the Province of South Africa, Parish Registers,

Notes for Florence Norton OAKESHOTT:

Also known as: Girlie pr Girliewigs

Florence was the daughter of Albert Cecil Oakeshott and his wife Selina ("Lena") Catherine Norton who were married at East London, Cape Province, South Africa on 25 Oct 1893. Albert was born in London, England, the son of Joseph and Amelia Oakeshott. We know that he had a brother Harry who ran a boot and shoe making company in England. One theory is that Albert was "his man" in South Africa.

Florences mother died 12 April, 1931, and her dad in 19 April, 1938
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Florence was apparently, the very first woman to be licensed to drive a car in East London.


Florence in the driving seat of what we presume was the family car at the time (click to enlarge).
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From the passenger list when Florence and Arthur travelled to the UK:

Name: Florence KNIBBS
Date of departure: 4 August 1960
Port of departure: Southampton
Passenger destination port: East London, South Africa
Passenger destination: East London, South Africa
Date of Birth: 12 February 1895
Age: 65 (calculated from DOB)
Marital status: Married
Sex: Female
Occupation: H Wife
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See Florence's Death Certificate

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Read details of Florence
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Our gratitude goes to the members and volunteers at the eGGSA Branch of
The Genealogical Society of South African for recording the details on their web site in memory of Florence and Arthur.

Florence is commemorated on Panel 21 of the East London, Cambridge Crematorium.

Sources for Florence Norton OAKESHOTT:

  1. Personal Contact with Natasha Hartlett-Von Aulock,
  2. FindMyPast.com, Passenger list. 
  3. Personal Contact with Jennifer Jackson,
  4. Cremation Register, East London,
  5. Cremation Register, Cambridge Crematorium, East London,