Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1945, Lieutenant George Arthur Knowland V.C., the Royal Norfolk Regiment, attached to No. 1 Commando, was killed in action in Burma.
His mother died when he was a child so he spent some time in an orphanage before returning to live with his father. In 1940 he enlisted in the army, at first with the Royal Norfolk Regiment. He fought with distinction in Sicily and Italy and was promoted to Sergeant, then selected for officer training.
In January of 1945, now commissioned, he went to Burma to serve with No. 1 Army Commando as a section leader with No. 4 Troop. He was given the task of defending the northern end of Hill 170, a dominant feature on the Arakan Peninsula. On the day of his death he and twenty-four of his men were under attack by three hundred Japanese. He used rifle fire and grenades on the enemy as he distributed ammunition to his men, and took over a forward Bren gun when the crew were wounded. The Japanese were ten yards away, and he continued to fire as his injured men were removed and a replacement team arrived. He went on to use his rifle and a Tommy gun as well as mortar fire, killing the enemy but being mortally wounded in the process. He had lost half his men, but the ground had been held for twelve hours and the enemy had been prevented from advancing.
For his actions that day Lieutenant Knowland was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He lies buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery near Rangoon. Sadly his medal, which was displayed in his father’s public house, was stolen in 1958 and its whereabouts was never discovered.
George, from Catford in Kent, was 22 years old.