John Knight (1886-1918) - Pte 18432 2nd Bn Coldstream GuardsJohn Knight, brother of Percy Knight Dennett and cousin to William Dennett, married Kitty Beard on 24thDecember 1911 at St Nicolas Church Itchingfield. Kitty had come to Barns Green to work as a children’s nurse for Colonel Melville who had moved to Willowbank in Itchingfield in about 1908. John and Kitty had three children, James Edward (b 1912); Dorothy (b 1914) and Annie (b 1916) and both James and Dorothy were baptised in St Nicholas Church.John worked around the local area as a gardener or general labourer andenlisted in Horsham on 19thNovember 1915. He was mobilised and posted to the 5thBattalion Coldstream Guards in June 1916 and then transferred to the 2ndBn and posted to France on the 5thJanuary 1917.At this time the Battalion was on the Somme near Albert but were only actually in the trenches for two short spells between 15thand 26thFebruary. At the end of the month however they were to be redeployed to trenches south of Ancre and here, at Bronfay Farm and at Pregicourt, they were to experience more intensive action. Between the 12thand 16thof March the Battalion saw 8 OR killed and 23 wounded. Although not high casualty rates for service on the Somme, the close proximity to such death and injury must have had a powerful effect on all who were there.In March 1917 John was hospitalised with trench fever, a feverish illness with a range of symptoms, treatment for which was limited to basic nursing and time. It appears that his recovery was at best slow and on the 26thMay he was transferred back to the 5thBattalion and home. He spent time in convalescent hospitals in Manchester and Blackburn and on September 14th1917 was sent home pending his discharge. At this point “home” was in Gloucestershire where his wife and children had moved to live with her parents whilst John was serving in the army.It is likely however that the effects of his time in the trenches may have been more far-reaching than just trench fever as his discharge papers also state that he was “congenitally mentally deficient”. No earlier records make any mention of this. His school records and earlier army records give no indication of this, the latter documenting his conduct as “good” and describing him as “a hardworking man”, which suggests that this condition was brought on by his time in the trenches – shell shock in WW1 parlance; post-traumatic stress as it is better known today. John was formally discharged from the Army on the 2ndOctober 1917 but by this time he had been certified insane by his local doctor (Dr Pinching) and committed to the County Asylum, Gloucester. He was granted the Silver War Badge and again the “reason for award” is given as “Mentally Defective”.He was discharged from the asylum on a month’s trial basis in January 1918 and subsequently released as fit for work on the 23rdFebruary. On 3rdMarch 1918 however he was found dead in a disused well. At his inquest the jury returned a verdict of “suicide while temporarily insane” and they asked the coroner to add a rider to the verdict expressing their strong disapproval of the military authorities for discharging him from the army in such a state - adding that it was scandalous and disgraceful that such a thing should be permitted.Although John was awarded the Victory and British War Medals for his service, to date no formal memorial marks his grave in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church in Whitminster in Gloucestershire.Parts of John’s service and pensions records survive and can be found online on both Ancestry or Findmypastor on microfilm at the National Archives in Kew.