He was the son of Brigadier General Kempster Kenmure Knapp, CB., CMG., RA and of Lilian Wingate Knapp (the daughter of William Cowan) who lived at Brooke Lodge, Weedon.
He came to Southgate House in May 1925 from Bramcote, becoming a Commoner Prefect in 1930, playing in OTH XV for two years and for one year in VIs. He was also a sergeant in the OTC and helped to win Drill Cup for his house.
He left to go to RMA Woolwich in 1930 and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1932. He went to Estonia in 1937 to study Russian, qualifying in 1938 as an interpreter. He was also fluent in Urdu and Pushtu and in 1939 he was sent to India, seeing active service in Waziristan. He became a Captain in 1940, and in the same year, with the acting rank of Major, he took an anti-tank battery to Iraq. He passed the Staff College at Quetta in 1943 and became Staff Officer RA in Ceylon.
On December 25th 1943, he married Adele Elsa Knapp (daughter of Ernest Buchner), of Camberley, Surrey.
In 1944 he joined the Chindit Division as GSO1 with the temporary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He then served as OC 33 Mountain Regiment on the Arakan front in Burma. The Regiment was formed from batteries of 23, 30 and 31 Mountain Regiments in October 1944, as there was increasing need for artillery able to get into difficult positions in steep country. His Colonel wrote that when they landed at Ru-Ywa they were somewhat stale from previous operations: “By sheer personality John infused into the regiment new life, vigour and will to win. He, and he alone, maintained this spirit throughout the advance by his never-failing cheerfulness and courage.”
Knapp was killed, aged thirty-two, on March 13th 1945, when his command post received a direct hit. He is commemorated on Face 2 of the Rangoon Memorial. His Brigadier wrote of the tact and power of mind which made him a first-rate Staff Officer: “I know that he achieved his ambition as a soldier when he went to serve in Arakan. I know too that he did his job faultlessly until the end, and willingly gave up his life. Both at Winchester and in the Army he was loved and admired.”
- Surname: Knapp
- Forenames or initials: John
- House: F
- Years in School: 1925-1930
- Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
- Regiment: Royal Artillery
- Date of Birth: 25th May 1912
- Date of Death: 13th March 1945
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner E2
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Face 2 of the Rangoon Memorial