Captain Percy Frank Knightley DSO RWF served with the 24th Bttn Royal Welch and was made a DSO on 25 April 1918 for his actions during the Third Battle of Gaza in Palestine at the Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took charge of the front line of the attack at a critical moment when, owing to casualties from enemy fire, it appeared impossible to advance, He re-organised and rallied the men and led them with great dash to the capture of the objective, afterwards assuming command of the whole battalion front. He showed splendid courage and leadership.“
The Battalion war diaries for the 24th and 25th Battalions of the Royal Welch Fusiliers state that they were:
“met with stout resistance” at one location, where the Ottoman soldiers fought to the last man. Intense hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches continued until 13:30, when the Ottoman trench line on the western side of Beersheba (stretching from the Khalasa-to-Beersheba road in the south to the Wadi es Saba in the north) was captured. For his actions Corporal John Collins was later awarded the Victoria Cross. During this fighting, the two Royal Welch Fusiliers battalions captured three-quarters of the prisoners (and suffered two-thirds of the casualties) of the XX Corps. The XX Corps captured 419 prisoners, six guns, “numerous machine guns” and materiel; casualties included 136 killed, 1,010 wounded and five missing (most casualties from shrapnel from Ottoman artillery and machine guns during the preliminary bombardment)
Percy Frank Knightley was born in 1874 in Aldershot to Edward Knightley and Ellen Wather Knightley. He had eight siblings: Maud Phyllis Dailly Furneaux Arnold, Winifred Julia Le Sueur, Beatrice Flora Harrison, George Davonpot Knightley, Frederick Edward Knightley, Alfred John Knightley, Catherine J Copsey and Jane Knightley. He married Harriet Sophia Knightley in 1895 and they had a daughter Harriet Mary St George Knightley. In civilian life he was an accountant.
Knightley initial joined the HAC and rose to the rank of Company Quarter Master Sergeant. With the outbreak of the Great War he was commissioned into the 5th (Flintshire) Battalion, The Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was made a Lieutenant on 24 March 1915 and quickly promoted Captain in April 1915.
He was then seconded to the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) Battalion Territorial Force as a Company Commander as an acting captain (without pay and allowances) before being posted to the School of Instruction as an Assistant Instructor, before returning to the 4th Bttn of his Regiment.
He joined the Lodge on 23 February 1921 at the age of 41.
He died in 1942 aged 68.