A Knight’s Tale (1: “A Sneaky Weekend”)

During the early 1940s members of my father, Douglas Michael Knight’s, generation were doing what those of his father had done before, namely fighting to save the life of our country, and, indeed, the whole world, from the might of Germany and its allies.

My maternal grandfather, an engineer in the prison service, was attached to Leicester Prison. As such he and his family including my mother, Jean, née Hunter, were allocated prison quarters.

Dad was billeted for a while next door. The teenaged neighbour must have aroused his interest, because, on 7th July, 1942, I was born in Leicester General Hospital. The above photographs were taken around this time.

Wherever he was stationed, Mum tells me, Dad took every opportunity when in England to get home to Mum and me and, later, Chris.  If he had no official leave, this involved nipping off for what she calls “a sneaky weekend”.   Apparently he found all kinds of means to do this, often involving the railway services.  On one occasion when he couldn’t find any sort of train he walked all through the night from ‘somewhere in Yorkshire’ to Leicester for the pleasure.  Dad himself has told me about marathon nocturnal walks to Leicester.

Mum’s part in the subterfuge was to keep a lookout for redcaps, as were termed the military police, one of whom was her elder brother Ben.  I guess discovery could have been awkward.


  1. Such a wonderful story–I love how determined your father was. I love the photos, especially your mom’s wide-eyed look. “A sneaky weekend” makes me laugh.

  2. I enjoy reading your family history, Derrick! It sounds like there would be many other side stories about those marathon nocturnal walks. 🙂

  3. When I was in the Army we referred to Military police as “Meat Heads”. There were two connotations: their caps were red (same as Brit MPs) and also the belief that all they had between the ears was meat.

  4. The photos of your parents brought joy-tears to my eyes. ❤️And I love hearing about their lives together. ❤️
    “a sneaking weekend” gave me the giggles. 😀

  5. I have seen this before. My comment was that this would be at least a 50 mile walk from say Sheffield as just about the most southerly point in Yorkshire. Average walking speed is at most 4 mph so that would take twelve and a half hours non stop. Roman armies marched 20 miles a day in four hour stints and Napoleon could get 30 from his troops. He must surely have hitched a ride?

  6. Wonderful parents Derrick and walking was often the only mode of transport and we thought nothing of walking miles to get to school .. Many thanks for sharing those memories and the photos <3

  7. Both of your parents look like sensitive people. Lovely photos. I love looking at photos of my parents when they were young, but there aren’t that many. I have been reviewing them lately for inclusion it a book about my family I just sent in for final formatting.

  8. I’m glad I came back to the posts from earlier in the week and read this story. Your dad was clearly very determined. Must have been nice for your mum to see more of her husband than might otherwise have been expected!

  9. Your family history reminds me of my ancestors. My Mother’s family came to Canada to escape France’s King’s Army. My Father’s family (high ranking officers in France’s King’s Army) came to Canada to round up army deserters. 🙄

Leave a Reply