Knights-Whittome R.J. - The OldWinburnians

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R. J. Knights--Whittombe

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Ronald  John Knights-Whittome

Wing Commander
Royal  Air  Force


Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death


Sunday the 9th of November 1941
R.A.F. Halton


Ronald was the younger son of David and Elizabeth Knights-Whittome (nee Draper) and the husband of Margaret Jacinth of Barnes, Surrey. His father David was a photographer in the Edwardian era, who had many local customers in the area of Sutton Surrey. However, he became known as “Photographer to the King” because he photographed the then King, Edward VII, his son the future George V and grandson the future Edward VIII. (When he retired, he moved to St.Albans - where he eventually became Mayor.)
Ronald was a Boarder at W.G.S. and whilst here he won challenge cup for rifle shooting, (picture).
He was remembered in a letter, written in 1946, by a former pupil and friend. "Knights-Whittome remains in my mind as a wistful, friendly fellow, who was scholarly, yet full of fun - a boy of sensible interests and a balanced outlook. I can understand his success amongst the 'few' who saved the country during the Battle of Britain. Nothing more natural and inevitable."
Ronald graduated from the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell in January of 1933 and took up a post as a Pilot Officer. At some time he met up with N.A.R. Halliday a contemporary from his school days.
He went to Egypt around 1934  and was one of the flyers who were sent into the desert to search for the two British soldiers who had been lost and was fortunate in finding one of them.
While in Egypt he picked up a germ and because of the condition of his health which followed he was sent home around 1935 and became Personal Assistant to Air Vice-Marshal Babington.
He went through a course of studies at the Slavonic School of Languages at London University and passed out in Russian. He later went to Tallin, Estonia, and studied for several months under a Russian Professor.  On his return to England he passed another examination in Russian and was subsequently attached. to the Air Ministry.
In 1936, he was promoted Flight Lieutenant and in 1940 he was posted to the Air Ministry (Intelligence).
Wing Commander Knights-Whittome became a patient in the RAF Hospital at Halton where he died. His grave is in the churchyard of Halton (St. Michaels).   
His father and mother had been Mayor and Mayoress of St. Albans City Council and his death  occured on the day they stood down.  They went ahead with the Mayor making ceremonies without  making any mention of their loss until afterwards.
In a letter published in the School magazine in the Spring of1944, one of his contemporaries at W.G.S.who became a Captain, in the R.Eng., wrote of Ronald and another that, " They had the qualities of fine soldiers and leaders,
young in those days but since proved beyond doubt." He added, "I eagerly await the coming invasion when the sad fate of these men may be avenged ; and, if I could choose a section to land with me at the appointed time, that section would still come from No. 1 tent at the camp at Kimmeridge, so many years ago."

Memorial notice from the local press in 1941.

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