838104 Pte Robert Thompson Knox was born on 6th June 1895, on the family farm in Proton Station, Grey County, Ontario, to Robert and Nettie Knox. As with most farming families John came from a large household, having three brothers and five sisters. As the third eldest son, John was expected to make his own way in life as the farm was his eldest brother's birth right.

When the 31st (Grey) Regiment was called upon to raise a draft of men for the 76th Battalion C.E.F., Robert volunteered. But prior to departing Owen Sound, authorization to raise a C.E.F. battalion within the county was received. This announcement saw all the men already under arms for overseas service with the 31st Regiment being transferred to this new Canadian Expeditionary Force battalion.

Twenty year old Robert attested into the 147th (Grey) Battalion on 30th November 1915, and was billeted locally over the winter until the unit left for centralized training at Camp Niagara in the spring of 1916. Immediately prior to that, Robert was granted furlough to attend to the ploughing back on the farm, reporting back for duty in the first week of May. As the conditions at Camp Niagara were wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June. It wasn't until late September that the unit finally received its orders to proceed overseas. After a short leave period the unit left Camp Borden by train on 6th October. Destined for the Port of Halifax they were detained in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month when a number of soldiers contracted Diphtheria. It was only after the unit received a clean bill of health that it was finally allowed to sail for Great Britain. Boarding the H.M.T. Olympic, the unit set sail on 14th November 14th 1916.

On 1st January 1917, the 147th Battalion ceased to exist when it became the nucleus for the 8th Reserve Battalion, whose task it was to supply reinforcements to the 58th Battalion and the 4th C.M.R. Private Knox was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. on 7th March 1917, during the build-up for the Battle of Arras, where, as part of the British 1st Army the Canadian Corps stormed Vimy Ridge.

Surviving that infamous Canadian battle and the greater Battle of Arras, Robert served through the rest of the summer. After the Battle of Hill 70 the Canadian Corps returned to trench routine, conducting minor operations in preparation for what was going to be its next major battle. It was while the unit was in the support lines near La Chaudiere that it was came under a mixed artillery barrage, consisting of High Explosive and gas shells during the early hours of 5th September. This shelling was the first experience the unit had where the shells contained Mustard Gas. Little did the soldiers know the gas was laying dormant, that is until sunrise later that day when it stated to vaporize. Suffering from gas poisoning Robert was medically evacuated to England and didn't return until after the Armistice was signed.

Sailing home with the 4th C.M.R. aboard the Carmania, the unit arrived at the port of Halifax before being transported to Toronto by train. Arriving at the Toronto North station on 19th March, the unit paraded through the city streets to much fan fair. Arriving at the University Armoury, all military decorum was lost as the crowds of well wishers broke into their ranks to greet their returning loved ones. The following day, 838104 Private Robert Thomas Knox made his way to the exhibition grounds and was struck off strength of the 4th C.M.R. and the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Returning to Grey County he once again took up farming and married Lucy Wilson in 1920. Within ten years Robert left Grey County moving west to the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Robert Thomas Knox passed away on 10th April 1974, in Kelowna, B.C. and was laid to rest in the city's Memorial Park Cemetery.

Biography details credit: George Auer