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From the Prairie to Passchendaele

by Fred Knight and Adapted by Joy Lennick

ISBN-10: 1537252917
ISBN-13: 978-1537252919

From the Prairie to Passchendaele available in paperback from:

On an appropriate date, the 11th of November, the above book, written by Graham Knight’s grandfather Frederick Alfred Knight, when he was 83, was published. Its writing was no easy task, for – by that time – ‘Fred’ had Parkinson’s disease which badly affected his left arm, and as he had lost his right arm due to injuries suffered in WorldWar I, had to type the manuscript with a device worn on his head! Quite a feat. But then, Fred was no stranger to life’s barbs, hardships or pain.

Born in the late 1800s. Fred was one of, eventually, twelve children and his parents even had a boarder too! Times were hard but at least his father had employment, and when Fred left school at fourteen, he was apprenticed to a boot and shoe maker. Bored and over-worked, his dreams took him many miles away: to the wide open prairies of Canada and the hope of becoming a cowboy grew… But dreams were just that when there was insufficient money to fulfill them! Tenacious, and with the wish growing in intensity, he borrowed the required sum of ten pounds, and found himself on the exciting, long journey to Canada, aged only seventeen.

Elation was followed by disappointment, when promised employment evaporated, but he found work with a homesteader and soon realised that life as a farmer was far from the cherished dream of being a cowboy! Made of stern stuff, Fred buckled up and discovered a surprising but growing pleasure for the hard work; becoming proud of his bulging muscles. Despite working in freezing and soaring temperatures, Fred grew to love the seemingly endless prairie acres, horses and simple life.

World War I put paid to so many dreams and aspirations and was an obscenity which shouldn’t have happened. But it did: wiping out countless young and older men. Fred desperately wanted to help the war effort, and despite being discouraged by his employers, joined the ranks of the l0th Canadian Military unit (Known as “The Fighting 10th” for good reason). They quickly grew in stature, especially with such men as brave Fred in their ranks. Sadly, serious wounds put paid to his fighting days: resulting in the eventual loss of his right arm. His valour on the battlefield led to being awarded the Military Medal; but what price to pay?!

By then, having a wife and four sons to provide for, Fred could no longer farm. However, proving to be as tough and formidable in business as he was in battle, he retrained as an accountant, returned to Kent with his family and prospered, cherishing warm, everlasting memories of his years in Canada.

This book lets you linger in the early/mid 1900s and share the rich, while hard, experience of much that happened then. It provides an uplifting read, revealing the sheer guts and hard graft of a young man who had once just dreamed of “Being a cowboy!” No wonder Graham Knight is so proud of his grandfather.

Note: 2017 is the 100th Anniversary of The Battle of Passchendaele.

“The Canadians seized Passchendaele on November 6th, 1917. They were awarded nine Victoria Crosses, but the cost was terribly high. There were 15,000 wounded and dead for an advance of just a few kilometres of mud, and the battle had lasted three months.”


Fred KnightThis is the story of one man’s fight against the odds.

Fred Knight was born in 1893. One of twelve, his was a tough childhood through hard times in rural Kent. He got by with quick wits, hard work and dreams of becoming a cowboy. And then at seventeen, broke with few prospects in England, Fred followed his dream. He borrowed money for his fare, left behind family, friends and everything he knew, for the savage winters and barely settled emptiness of Saskatchewan. It wasn’t the cowboy fantasy of his boyhood; Fred had a debt to honour, life was hard. He earned the respect and friendship of the tough men and women of the scattered towns and farms. He grew to love the stark simplicity of the Canadian prairie. In WW1 Fred was with the 10th Canadian infantry on the Western Front. For his valour he was awarded the Military Medal but he paid a terrible price.

He was severely wounded, eventually losing his right arm. Fred took his young wife and family to Winnipeg. He started again, qualified as an accountant ­ but his wounds did not heal. In constant pain, with frequent relapses, he was forced to leave Canada. In 1933 Fred arrived back in England with a family, little money and few prospects. But for Fred Knight that wasn’t the end of it. In a few years he proved himself to be as tough and formidable in business as in all else. He prospered. At 83, when Parkinsonism had robbed him of the use of his one good hand, he had a device made so he could type with his head, and he wrote this: The story of a boy, who just wanted to be a cowboy.