HAMPSHIRE family members are making a poignant journey to Flanders to pay tribute to an ancestor on the 100th anniversary of his death.

William Conroy Knight was just 19 years old when he was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele on October 26, 1917.

His name is carved on a remembrance wall at the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres and on the village memorial at Brown Candover church, near Alresford.

The Griffin family will travel to France to mark the anniversary of his death and lay a wreath by his name, as he has no known grave.

Trevor, 56, retired firefighter, of Larch Close, Kings Worthy, said: “It is the 100th anniversary of his passing, being shot by a sniper. We haven’t forgotten him. We are going to lay a wreath.

“My grandmother never spoke of her brother, Bill. But his photo was on her wall for all my lifetime. We were brought up with Uncle Bill who had died 70 or 80 years before, when we were kids. But we don’t know anything about him.”

Visiting the cemeteries will be humbling, said Trevor. “The numbers of men who died is colossal.”

Griffins also going are Diana, 79, William’s niece, and David, 82, his nephew, both of Rowlings Road, Weeke, and Duncan, 50, and his son William, 10, both of Main Road, Littleton.

Trevor and Duncan are William’s Knight great nephews and Diana’s sons.

What little the family does know includes the fact that William absconded and joined up underage, lying about his date of birth, the son of James and Emily Knight who lived at Selborne, near Alton. He served with the Royal Marines Light Infantry.

On his death the family received a letter from his commanding officer, Lt G Gibbons, himself probably around the same age as William.

Lt Gibbons wrote:

“The battalion went over the top on 26th October and during the confusion two Lewis guns occupied the same shell hole. One of course had to take up some other position and Pte Knight’s crew got out and were getting into another shell hole, Knight being the second man, he was caught by a Boche (German) sniper and was killed instantly. He did not suffer at all.

“Owing to the intense barrage it was not practicable to remove him then, but later a burial party went up and I have no doubt he was accorded a proper burial, but I can find no-one who actually saw his burial place. I am so sorry at having failed to get you this information.

“His death was actually witnessed by three men of his own gun crew. Please tender my deepest sympathy to his parents and say that I am very sorry I can tell them nothing further as regards his burial place.

“I believe he was very popular with his comrades and that his death was deeply regretted by them.

Believe me so be Sir,

Yours very sincerely

G Gibbons

Lieut OC “B” Coy.

William Griffin is named after his great, great uncle and has the same middle name, Conroy.

In the photo Diana is holding a memorial plaque which was was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed.