Unit: 7th North Staffordshire Regiment.
Commemorated: Amara War Cemetery, link Iraq
Robert, born in Scarborough Yorkshire, was the son of Mr. R. Knaggs, of Little Oxcombe, Louth and the husband of Lucy Freeston (formerly Knaggs) of Tetford. He was 24 years old when he died and he is survived by a son, Ronald Knaggs who was just one year old when his father died. Robert’s wife remarried and had further children, the youngest of whom is Mr. Freeston who still resides in Tetford today. Prior to the war, Sir Francis Bennett of Oxcombe employed Robert, as under gamekeeper, his father being head gamekeeper. Robert was forced in to enlisting – he was in what was then the equivalent of a reserved occupation and, as such, was branded as a coward by local villagers. He enlisted at Horncastle having ridden there on his bicycle after suffering three punctures. He had to return home to effect repairs on each occasion.
After enlisting at Horncastle, Robert was drafted into the 7th Battalion of The North Staffordshire Regiment, again a Kitchener battalion. This formed part of the 39th Brigade, the 13th (Western) Division. The Division began to assemble in late August 1914 and by the end of February 1915 had concentrated at Blackdown near Farnborough. After initial training, the Division received orders on the 7th June 1915 to the effect it was to make ready for service in the Mediterranean. The first units left England on the 13th June and by the 4th July the Division’s overseas Headquarters had been established.
Before finally arriving in Mesopotamia, the Division saw action at Gallipoli, finally arriving at Port Said in early 1916, joining the Tigris Corps at Shaikh Saad. At the beginning of April 1916, a third attempt was made by the British to relieve the garrison in the besieged City of Kut – el – Amara, which failed. After this failed attempt, the garrison at Kut surrendered on the 29th April 1916.
The 13th December 1916 saw the British prepare operations for the recapture of the City and, on the 25th January 1917 a very large attack, in which Robert’s battalion was engaged, was initiated, the aim of which was to capture Kut itself. The 7th North Staffords were unable to break the strong Turkish positions and suffered 300 casualties. It is very likely that Robert received his mortal wounds in this action, especially as the 7th North Staffs were placed in reserve for the rest of January 1917. Robert died of his wounds on the 30th January 1917.