b. 16/08/1922 Catford, Kent. d. 31/01/1945 Kangaw, Burma.
Knowland was born on 16 August 1922 in Catford, Kent and attended Elmwood Primary School in Croydon. He joined the British Army, the Royal Norfolk Regiment, in 1941 as a private and was commissioned before the end of the year.
At 22 years old, and a lieutenant in the Royal Norfolks but now attached to No. 1 Commando in Burma, he took part in the Battle of Hill 170 where he was to be awarded the VC.
On 31 January 1945 near Kangaw, Burma, Lieutenant Knowland was in command of a forward platoon of a troop which was being heavily attacked - some 300 of the enemy concentrating on his 24 men. During the attacks he moved among the men distributing ammunition and contributing with rifle fire and throwing grenades at the enemy. When the crew of one of his forward Bren light machine guns had been wounded, he rushed forward to man it himself. The enemy was only 10 yards (9.1 m) away but below the level of the trench so to fire into them he stood up. He continued to fire until the casualties had been evacuated. A replacement gun team that had been sent for were injured while moving up and he stayed with the gun until a third team arrived.
In a subsequent attack he took over a 2 inch (51 mm) mortar which he fired from the hip directly into the enemy. He returned to the trench for more ammunition and fired the mortar from out in the open. When this was used up he fired his rifle. The enemy were then very close and without time to reload his rifle, he picked up a "Tommy gun" (sub machine gun) and used it. He killed more of the enemy but received mortal wounds. Despite over 50% losses in the platoon the remainder held on. By the time they were relieved the men had held the ground for 12 hours; they prevented the enemy from advancing further on that hill.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MEDAL STOLEN.
BURIAL PLACE: TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY, BURMA.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT XI, ROW J, GRAVE 1
Lewisham Shopping Centre (Derek Walker)
Family grave in Croydon Cemetery
Knowland's VC Action painting
National Memorial Arboretum