1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Korea Medal, UN Korea Medal, 5338045 Pte R.N. Knight, Glosters, Royal Berkshire Regiment and No 5 Commando, an evacuee from Dunkirk who served in Madagascar and Burma with the Commandos, during which time the No 5 Commando invaded Madagascar, followed by fighting against the Japanese in India and Burma to close out the war before remaining in the army and joining the Glosters being posted to the war in Korea and then being taken Prisoner at the Battle of Imjin River with the “Glorious Glosters”.
With original large Kukri knife, original ‘Red Book’ certificate of service, US Presidential Citation ribbon bar, Gloucester Regiment Cap Badge, Original Press Photo in Korea, shown sitting with 2 Korean children, wearing a Glosters Cap Badge and Beret, Another Original photo in Korea sitting on a jeep.
2 Original Photos following his return home in uniform with his medal ribbons, two pay slips from 1947, Income Tax note form for 1946-7.
Reshton Newman Knight was born on 25th November 1918, working as a labourer when he enlisted for service at Reading, Berkshire, becoming a Private with the Royal Berkshire Regiment, number 5338045, joining 1st Battalion.
When WW2 broke out he was posted to France with the Expeditionary Force from 23rd September 1939, being evacuated home from Dunkirk on 4th June 1940, which was the last day of the mass evacuation so he was likely one of the unlucky men to be left stranded on the beaches waiting for rescue.
His services from his Red Book:
Royal Berks Regt
Home: 1st May 1939 – 22nd September 1939
B.E.F. France: 23rd September 1939 – 4th June 1940
Home: 5th June 1940 – 21st March 1942
Madagascar: 22nd March 1942 – 25th November 1942
Home: 26th November 1942 – 12th November 1943.
India: 13th November 1943 – 3rd September 1944
Ceylon: 4th September 1944 – 21st October 1945.
Home: 22nd October 1945 – 5th August 1946.
No 5 Commando in Madagascar, the first major amphibious operation of WW2
His next overseas posting would be 8 months in Madagascar, however his Regiment did not serve there, he had in fact been recruited as a member of No. 5 Commando, formed on 18th July 1940, commanded by Lt Col S.P. Wood.
When he arrived in Madagacar, No 5 Commando was involved in Operation Ironclad. Numbering about 365 men, under the command of Lt Col Sanguinetti, they were attached to the 29th Brigade and tasked with landing ahead of the main force near Courrier and Ambarata Bays on the northern tip of Madagascar, they then carried out a raid on a French coastal artillery battery.
This was the first Major Amphibious operation carried out by Allied Forces during the War. At dawn on 5th May, after the transport vessels had managed to slip through a stretch of water which was thought to be impassable due to the presence of reefs, the Commandos then embarked upon an Assault Landing Craft and proceeded to their beach down a small channel that had been cleared of mines by a small force of Corvettes.
They then landed at the base of 50 Foot (15 Metre) cliff, which they then scaled, by doing so achieving a complete surprise over the French officers and Colonial troops manning the two guns. At Dawn they were counter attacked by a platoon sized element of French colonial troops, against which the commandos carried out a bayonet charge, they smartly targeted the N.C.O.’s leading the attack and having killed them, the remaining defenders lay down their weapons and surrendered.
For the next two days, the Commandos continued their operations around Cap Diego, the Main infantry Force having only just arrived at Ambarata, tasked with heading to the port of Antsirane, attempting to take it from the rear, on the opposite headland across the channel from Cap Diego, to the south capturing Fort Bellevue and the airfield in the process.
During these operations the Commandos marched 18 miles (29km) from where they had landed at Courrier Bay across the isthmus that separated the Cap D’Ambre from the larger land mass to the south, and moved to Cap Diego where they carried out ‘mopping up’ operations and were briefly engaged with a French Foreign Legion Troop in a battle that followed about 50 legionnaires were wounded.
Only 3 days later, by 8th May 1942, Antsirane fell by an assault by the Royal Marines, and as the prolonged campaign against the French forces began. No 5 Commanded went to Mombassa, carrying out rehearsals for the next phase of the campaign, which came on 10th September 1942 when they carried out another landing at Majunga.
This plan called for a dawn landing at the docks, but after some of the landing craft broke down they were delayed and the landing instead took place later in the day without the cover of darkness.
As the defending French colonial troops opened up fire on the landing craft with 4 machine guns, the support vessels fire on the shore in an effort to provide some cover for the Commandos. Once ashore they took control of the local Post Office, severing communications with Tannanarive, before storming the Governor’s Residence and raising the Union Jack.
They took part in one more landing at Amabalavo during October, the Vichy French having just rejected a proposal to surrender on 18th September, not long afterwards the Vichy French surrendered on 5th November 1942, and the No 5 Commandos were posted back home arriving in late November.
Being Freed from Captivity, Northampton Mercury 1953:
“WELDON MAN FREED
Among British prisoners released by the Communists in Korea on Monday was Private Reshton Knight, of the Gloucesters, whose home is at 6, Woodland Estate, Weldon, near Corby.”