Alfred Knox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Alfred Knox
Колчак, Нокс и английские офицеры восточного фронта.jpg
Admiral Kolchak (seated) and General Alfred Knox (behind Kolchak) observing military exercises on the Eastern Front of the Russian Civil War. Date 1919
Born(1870-10-30)30 October 1870
Died9 March 1964(1964-03-09) (aged 93)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Battles/warsFirst World War
RelationsKing James ll
Other workMember of Parliament

Major-General Sir Alfred William Fortescue Knox (30 October 1870 – 9 March 1964) was a career British military officer and later a Conservative Party politician.


Born in Ulster, he joined the British Army and was posted to India.

In 1911 General Knox was appointed the British Military Attaché in Russia.[1] A fluent speaker of Russian, he became a liaison officer to the Imperial Russian Army during First World War. During the October Revolution in Russia he observed the Bolsheviks taking the Winter Palace on 25 October 1917 (by the Julian or Old Style calendar, which corresponds to 7 November 1917 in the Gregorian or New Style calendar).

"The garrison of the Winter Palace originally consisted of about 2,000 all told, including detachments from yunker and ensign schools, three squadrons of Cossacks, a company of volunteers and a company from the Women's Battalion.
The garrison had dwindled owing to desertions, for there were no provisions and it had been practically starved for two days. There was no strong man to take command and to enforce discipline. No one had any stomach for fighting; and some of the ensigns even borrowed great coats of soldier pattern from the women to enable them to escape unobserved.
The greater part of the yunkers of the Mikhail Artillery School returned to their school, taking with them four out of their six guns. Then the Cossacks left, declaring themselves opposed to bloodshed! At 10 p.m. a large part of the ensigns left, leaving few defenders except the ensigns of the Engineering School and the company of women."[citation needed]

During the Russian Civil War, he was the head of the British Mission (Britmis) and notional Chef d'Arrière of the White Army in Siberia under Admiral Kolchak. He barely intervened in the combat operations, as Kolchak was unwilling to listen to his advice and to accept demands about a Russian Constituent Assembly after the war.[2]

In 1921 Knox published his memoirs, With the Russian Army: 1914-1917. In this book he also tells the story of heroine Elsa Brändström.

At the 1924 general election, he was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Wycombe, defeating the sitting Liberal MP Lady Terrington. He held his seat during the 1929 general election[3] and through subsequent general elections, serving in the House of Commons until the 1945 general election. In 1934, Knox argued against Indian Independence by stating "India, diverse in races and creed and united only by Britain, is not ready for democracy."[4] His parliamentary questions mainly concerned the Soviet Union and the threat of Hitler as well as the rearmament of Britain during the inter-war period. Knox remained a strong opponent of Communism throughout his career and following the Soviet invasion of Finland, campaigned to give military support to the Finns.[5]

He died on 9 March 1964.

In Fiction[edit]

Knox is depicted in the book August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as a somewhat troublesome attache as General Samsonov attempts to lead his army through East Prussia.[6]


  1. ^ Neal Ascherson, "After Seven Hundred Years," London Review of Books (24 May 2012), p. 8.
  2. ^ Smele, Jonathan (2017). The "Russian" Civil Wars, 1916–1926. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 111–112.
  3. ^ "No. 33508". The London Gazette. 21 June 1929. pp. 4106–4107.
  4. ^ S.P. Agrawal and J.C. Aggarwal,Information India : 1993-94. Global View. New Delhi : Concept, 1997. ISBN 9788170225379 (p. 379).
  5. ^ "...General Alfred Knox MP, who in 1919 had been Churchill's special representative at the headquarters of Admiral Kolchak and who still regarded the anticommunist fight as his special vocation". Markku Ruotsila Churchill and Finland: A Study in Anticommunism and Geopolitics. London ; Frank Cass, 2005. ISBN 0415349710 (p. 92)
  6. ^ James M. Curtis, Solzhenitsyn's Traditional Imagination. University of Georgia Press, 2008 ISBN 9780820331867 (p.70)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lady Terrington
Member of Parliament for Wycombe
Succeeded by
John Haire