2 Chris#
Newsletter of Old Boys & Friends of 70
London BB Company
It is with such sadness that we report the passing
of Peter Knights, an ‘officer and gentleman’ of the
highest order. Peter, our 70th captain from 1961
to 1980, was fittingly given a great send off at his
Service of Thanksgiving in January. Many OB’s and
friends were there to hear wonderful tributes to a
man who touched so many lives in such a positive
way. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with
Daphne and her family, hoping they would have
been comforted by the memories of a much-
admired man.
We heard too in February of the passing of Martin
Nightingale, ‘a stalwart’ of the Company in the
50’s and 60’s and a talented pianist and organist.
Many will have heard that Chris Buss, 70
Captain for the past 25 years resigned in January.
Chris was the driving force for the company over
these many, often-difficult years. T
he Company
Such Sad, Sad Times
Such Sad, Sad TimesSuch Sad, Sad Times
Such Sad, Sad Times
What Should We
What Should We What Should We
What Should We
Reflect On?
Reflect On?Reflect On?
Reflect On?
We have now produced three editions of Reflections.
Feed back is always welcome to make sure that the content
of our magazine is what OB’s want to read.
Unfortunately we don’t get a huge amount of feedback and
it is tempting, but unwise, to think that we have got it right
and everybody is happy.
Roy Norris took the trouble to write to us last October, the
gist of his email being as follows:
Whilst it is proper that Reflections should cover OB’s
nostalgic stories and their views of the past, it is equally
important that Reflections should be forward looking. We
need to cover more about what OB’s have done since leaving
the company, and what they are currently ‘up to’.
is indebted to Chris for his unswerving
dedication to the Company and the welfare of
its officers and boys.
To add to our sorrow, as many of you will already
know, the 70th London Boys’ Brigade Company is
no longer in existence. Members of the Tooting
Junction Baptist Church at their AGM in February
unanimously agreed to close both the BB & GB
organisations. This was due to the fact that there
was no longer any staff to run the companies
The passing of the 70
Company, after just over the
101 years of its existence,
is a devastating fact that
so many OB’s will find it
so hard to come to terms
study of coins], bee keeping
and genealogy! Roy has
promised us an article on one if not all of his pastimes in
Edition 4. John Ward has already written about his
fascinating rise to become a curator of the Science Museum
in London. [This again will appear in the next edition].
In the meantime please, please let us have your views,
articles or letters.
April 2010
We will be starting a letters/emails page in the next
edition…so go on drop us an email! It will only take a
‘mo’ but collectively it could make a big difference!
Transcript of Neil Pheasant’s
Pheasant’s Tribute to Peter at the
Thanksgiving Service on 26
January 2010.
It’s so good to be here today and to give thanks for the life of Peter with you.
As I came down on the train from Nottingham this morning thinking of this service, I
couldn’t begin to count the memories of Peter and all the things he means to so many
of us here today. To stand here and speak for so many Boys, who though in many cases
now balding and greying, are still Boys at heart, is an awesome thing.
I know that to many of you Peter was in many ways the 70
London Company of the
Boys’ Brigade and that some of your memories of him go back far further than I do.
Peter joined the Company in 1941 and I dare say you can give thanks for an awful lot
of fond remembrances of him: Peter the drummer; Peter the First Aider; Peter
engaged in that National Service Scheme during the war on his bike as a messenger
and also as a Fire Warden; Peter the footballer; Peter the PT instructor; Peter
organizing the 70
’s Annual Displays at the Church halls in Tooting. Neither can we
forget the part Peter played in the annual camps, the competitions, the Bible classes,
A Tribute to Peter Knights
A Tribute to Peter KnightsA Tribute to Peter Knights
A Tribute to Peter Knights
Over 200 loved-ones and friends of
Peter Knights crowded into Morden
Baptist Church on 12th January to
pay their tributes to remarkable
Whilst there was the inevitable
sadness at the passing of a man who
touched so many lives, the overall
sense of occasion was one of
happiness and felowship.
Many fine tributes were given on the
day and perhaps the one that
summed up the feelings and
memories of Peter were encapsulated
in the tribute by Neil Pheasant.
We therefore see no better way of
capturing the sentiments of most
OB’s and BB friends other than
reproduce the full transcript
of what Neil said on that most
memorable day.
Page 2
the Drill Parades or the big events at the Royal Albert Hall. All those things that made
the 70
special and a part of our lives are inseparably linked to him - Peter the Boy,
the Warrant Officer, the Lieutenant and the Captain. It is not surprising that today’s
thanksgiving service is very personal for us - deeply personal.
As I arrived here this afternoon I was given some notes of the comments that some
people have made in thanks to Peter. Let me share just a few:
One writes…[Roy Norris]
As one of my friends [Dennis Loader] said – “He was the genuine
article”. Coming from that person it was praise indeed. And well
Another, a younger man,[Erryck (Prince) Onyemachi] writes…
Really sad news about Mr Knights. He and Daphne were always very,
very good to me and my brothers and sisters.
Someone else [Bill Pizey]…
All who came in contact with Peter know what a wonderful man he was.
I myself will never forget him, he put me on the right path, that's for
sure. I still see that fantastic smile on his face, the smile that made
anyone and everyone feel wanted. I am sure you have heard the saying,
“An Officer and a Gentleman”, that was Peter Knights.
Someone else [David Coles] wrote (I need to put this into context. David Coles was a
Boy in the Company and is now the goal keeping coach of Portsmouth FC - he needs
our prayers! (much laughter……)
Peter was a great Captain and a friend of my family. I will certainly be
thinking of him today as will many other old Boys. It’s funny; every now
and then he would call me when we played Arsenal, just to make sure
we didn’t beat them. We played them on the 28th December 2009 and I
did not get a call and when we lost as usual I thought of him. Madness,
but he is always in my thoughts.
In all these tributes we see that if you know Peter, you don’t forget him.
For me, an eleven year old Boy whose Dad was in hospital or staying in some care
home somewhere, what I needed was someone to show me what true Christian
manliness was. Over many years Peter did that, he changed everything for me.
What sticks out for me, looking back over so many years to the 1960s? Certainly his
leadership of the 70
is the big thing. Three things were a part of that:
Page 3
Peter once wrote, in response to the question “What had the 70
for him?” that it was there that he found Christ as his Saviour and friend. That was the
first thing.
In fact there were two big “first things” for Peter in his life in the 70th: the Lord Jesus
and Boys. His purpose was to seek to bring the two together and everything else
served that purpose.
If Peter ever gave you something to do in the Company, you knew it was for that
purpose. It wasn’t a reward, it was a responsibility, and you knew it wasn’t a
celebration either or an achievement, but an opportunity to serve other Boys. He
didn’t have to say that to you because you knew it by seeing it in him, in everything
that he did.
There were no dramas with Peter. There was patience. There was also a
lot of fun and a lot of firmness too.
You knew that if you wanted to leave the 70th there was Peter in the way. You
couldn’t just stop going to Bible class and fade away. You couldn’t just not turn up at
Drill Parade and be forgotten. You knew that within a few days, there he would be
sitting down with either your Mum or Dad and talking it through.
He did this not because there was any reward in it for him but because you mattered
to him. In that sense he was emulating his Saviour in going after the lost because he
wanted you to know the Lord Jesus Christ. He would take the time to do that and show
great patience in it. He would take the most un-promising of Boys and young staff
members and take time with them to teach and to train and to build them up.
Later on when I was in pastoral ministry, I used to think back to his example and how
it would be the person who you sometimes might have said was the most difficult that
he would spend the most time with and show the most care over. They all mattered to
The 1960s and 70s particularly were tough times for the Boys
Brigade. The whole youth culture changed and people found other things to do that
were different to the traditional youth organisations. Peter was the right man, at the
right time and in the right place to deal with that for the 70th.
‘Stickability’ was the word we used for perseverance in those days and there it was
written in everything Peter did for us. It cost him I know. For several years he and I,
together with George (Bartlett) and Jim (Ballard) working with the Junior Section,
realised that running a Boys’ Brigade Company was no easy thing, particularly at that
time. Peter, as Captain, bore the brunt of that.
At one camp, we went away with just seven Boys and the temptation may have been
to think – well is this really worth it? It cost – not just for Peter but also for Daphne
and for Sue as well. To see your Husband and your Dad go out night after night, week
after week, just to be out with Boys, was no easy thing. We thank God for them too. If
Peter had given up then there are 5 or 6 generations of Boys who have gone through
the 70
since who wouldn’t have heard of the saving love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We had a saying in the 70
, a bit of a battle cry, ’70 for the 70
’ and it was our hope
that at some time, in some way, we would have 70 Boys in the Company. It occurred
to me on the way down this morning that from 1941 to 2010 are 70 individual years. 70
years over which Peter as a Boy, as an Officer, as a Captain and then afterwards as
someone who prayed for us and supported us, was a blessing to us – a wonderful 70 for
the 70
We thank you O our Father, before the memories fade, for all the love that you
showed us through Peter and for the time that you gave him to us
Neil Pheasant
Daphne Knights replies
I am so pleased to have the opportunity to express some thoughts to you all.
I want to thanks the Old Boys for all their kindness to me via so many cards, letters
and 'phone calls. A special thank you to so many of you who traveled long distances
to join the family at the Thanksgiving Service for Peter…it was really appreciated.
And didn’t the singing of the hymn ‘Will Your Anchor Hold’ really let it rip……Peter
would have loved it!
I must mention too, my thanks to the Old Boys for inviting Pete to the lunch in
October. He really enjoyed it and I was so pleased he was able to go.
Peter and I had 57 years of happy marriage and shared in the lives of the boys and
girls of the brigades. We always looked forward to receiving cards from ‘our boys
and girls’ and hearing their family news.
Thank you again for all your friendship and concern.
See you all on May 15
Very Best Wishes
Page 5
Keith Holbrook
[1947 to1953]
The picture of the 1949/50 cricket team in Edition 2 of
‘Reflections’ stirred a few memories. Seeing Bill (Will) Harris
and George Parsons again reminded me what good buglers they
were. Will was a superb soloist and along with George as second
solo, they were a great duo.
Will was something of an individualist. This manifested itself in
his choice of footwear – thick crepe soled shoes, at the time
considered a fashion item, though not thought the ideal
accompaniment to BB uniform! Another instance of this
individualistic streak was his unusual choice of socks that he
appeared to reserve for Church Parades. They were sometimes
striped, sometimes plain, but always brightly coloured. As we
prepared to lead the Parade there would be calls from within
the band of ‘Show us your socks Will!’. We were rarely
My memory of George has little to do with BB, more to do with
serving Queen and Country. After leaving the 70
I was shortly
afterwards called up to do two years National Service in the
Army. After the initial two weeks training where we were kitted
out, given short haircuts and generally chased around from
dawn to dusk the time came for the next stage of training.
Imagine my surprise and amazement on discovering that my
Squad NCO/Drill Instructor for the next eight weeks was to be
Cpl. G. Parsons RAMC. We never let on that we knew each other
and nobody ever suspected we did. I received no favours and
got bawled out the same as everyone else.
On one occasion George was taking us for drill. All was going
well or so I thought when I was
startled to hear a voice
(George’s) echoing across the Parade Ground ‘Holbrook, you’re
marching like a crab!’
I had in the past wondered why success had eluded me in the
Best Drilled Private competition. I wondered no more.
Peter Ellis [1956 to 1970]
Last year Kath [my wife] and I holidayed in Yorkshire and on
one day visited a county show. Some of the exhibits were
housed in marquees and when entering I was at once reminded
of the highlight of the BB year…. “camp week”.
Amongst my BB memorabilia I have a camp fund card for 1959
recording my payments which started on the 15
February! The
grand total of £4-17-0d, a seniors payment, was paid in
installments of 5/-d, 7/6d and 10/-d. As far as I remember boys
under 15 paid a reduced rate- good value for transport, shelter
and four meals a day! My payment card records that by the
June I had paid off the full amount.
Do you
remember the bread and cheese and a blob of red or
brown sauce, together with a mug of cocoa?
Camp for most of would have been the first time we had been
away from our parents for a period of time. Instead we were in
the care of a strict and forbidding (or so it seemed at the time)
older boy, our NCO tent commander. My first in 1956 or 57 was
Bernard Matcham. Who could forget the training and initiation
into camp routine & tent inspection? Blankets folded the
correct way, rolling up the brailing, laying out of our kit in the
precise way and of course the cleaning of belts and shoes.
One year in the late 50’s the company traveled by rail to
Axminster en route to camp at Charmouth. Being in the
baggage party with Roly Clark [the officer in charge] we had to
ensure about 60 kitbags, officers cases, the ex WD ammunition
boxes we used for the enamel plates and mugs and cutlery,
and the large porringer were on the same train as the camp
party. Embarking at Tooting Junction- no problem. Changing at
Wimbledon for the main line steam train entailed riding the
station lift to move all this equipment to another platform was
a real challenge, but I do not recall any items going astray. At
Axminster we all piled into the back of a lorry which took us to
the camp site, on that occasion the lorry was quite reasonable
not like the one used to take us to Church Parade in
Bridgeport, which smelt very strongly of fish!!
There are so many aspects of camp to remember, the meal
parades, orderly duties (innumerable items to wash up) the
morning and evening prayers when the officers
brought the
gospel to us. The special atmosphere of evening prayers
following supper has particular memories, with the hissing
Tilley lamps and the hymns sung accompanied by the
All these different experiences played a part in our growing up
process and I am sure that they were used by the Lord to lead
me to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour, as
did other members of the company.
There are many more memories of camp over the period 1956-
1968 as both a boy and officer, but they will keep for another
I Remember When
I Remember WhenI Remember When
I Remember When……….
Page 6
“The special atmosphere of evening
prayers following supper has particular
memories, with the hissing Tilley lamps
and the hymns sung accompanied by the
Peter Ellis