Errol Knox | Biography | Sir Errol Knox - A Tribute | A Daughters Memory

Storms Always End In Sunshine
By Professor A. R. Chisholm, An Old School-mate.

“Dynamic” has become a banal word, and yet it is the first that comes to the mind of anyone who had known Sir Errol Knox over a long period. He was born that way, and he went through life that way — all too quickly, as we realized yesterday.

Even as a schoolboy he showed an extraordinary capacity for intellectual and general leadership. In his first week at Fort St, the old Sydney school that turned out so many distinguished Australians, he joined the debating club. By the end of his third week he was one of its most dynamic members.

At the University of Sydney, as an undergraduate, he remained a debator, and achieved fame by more than one brilliant improvisation in the philosophy tutorial. Everyone thought that he was the making of a great lawyer. He had some leanings that way, but he turned his talents to journalism.

He joined the first AIF as a private, but on active service his promotion was inevitably rapid. He did splendid work on the staff of the Royal Flying Corps, and was twice Mentioned in Despatches, as well as receiving the MBE.

He could, in fact, have been a first class professional soldier; but his capacity for leadership showed itself, after the war, as before it, in journalism.

As everyone knows who saw him at work at The Argus, he combined two qualities that are not often seen together; he was a forceful executive and a born editor, with an uncanny capacity for picking up and binding together all the threads of administration, even on the mechanical side, and a no less notable capacity for sifting news and drawing conclusions from it. In other words, the philosopher that he had been as an undergraduate was still very much alive in the man of action that he became.

He was a man of strong political opinions; but they were not political prejudices, and he was on excellent terms with leading Parliamentarians of all political colours. The only political creeds towards which he maintained an attitude of uncompromising hostility were Fascism and Communism.

This is not a miniature biography; and there is no need to mention here the numerous activities outside journalism in which he distinguished himself. All that is part of the history of Sir Errol Knox.

What fills the minds of his old friends at the present moment is the memory of “Knocker”; the violently argumentative, warm hearted, impulsive, clever, self-assertive, but basically modest “Knocker.”

No man ever had a greater inability to endure bad work patiently; yet his storms were all on the surface, and he was quite devoid of rancour. His loudest storms always ended in warm sunshine.

A side of him that was perhaps not so well known was his immense knowledge. He had, among other things, been a first-class student of history, and his memory for the facts of Australian political history was staggering. He saw it all as if it were still living itself out before his eyes; and as a kind of aura to this he had an immeasurable memory for quotations from Australian poetry.

In other words, he was a great Australian. But he was never an insular one. One of his deepest beliefs was the yardstick by which he measured Australian politicians.

They had to be good Australians to fulfill his exacting requirements; but they needed also to have the wide vision, to see Australia as part of that British world which was, to use his own favourite expression, the greatest bulwark of peace in modern history. He preached that doctrine and worked without sparing himself to advance it.

And that is where “Knocker,” beloved by so many, merges into Sir Errol Knox, admired by still more. It is hard to say in his case which kind of immortality is the greater: that which is conferred by the fame of achievement, or that which radiates from the hearts of his many friends.

“Friend lost to Australia,” says Premier

“In the death of Sir Errol Knox, Australia has lost a great ambassador, and Australians have lost a firm and true friend,” Mr. Hollway, Premier, said last night.

“Sir Errol was endowed with a wide vision, and was a newspaperman who helped greatly to create in this country a pride in the Empire.

“He has consistently stressed the need for a big population in Australia and the urgency for greater immigration.

“A patron of the arts, he has given great assistance to the national theatre movement, and was chairman of the Drama Panel.

“Despite his many activities of a national character, Sir Errol never lost his great love for the flora and fauna of Victoria, and his appointment as chairman of the committee of management of the Healesville Sanctuary was a fitting recognition of his efforts to have the sanctuary put on a proper financial footing.

“He was a true sportsman — in every way.” Mr. Hollway added.

Tribute by Sir Keith Murdoch

Sir Keith Murdoch, chairman of directors of The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, pays this tribute in today’s issue of the Sun News-Pictorial:

“For 27 years Sir Errol Knox was prominent in newspaper editorial and managerial councils. We are a small circle. Our work is intense and highly competitive, and we do not group easily. But none of us had other than admiration for Bill Knox’s stout fighting for his newspaper and his shrewdness and fair play.

“He brought The Argus to financial strength from a position of collapse, and I do not know anyone else in Australia who could have done it. This was due to his masterly technical capacities and qualities of character and industry, which were outstanding.

“His colleagues in the industry will always remember a vivid personality, generous and loyal, and join their sorrow to that of Lady Knox and the children.”

Racing club tribute

With the death of Sir Errol Knox, its president, the Hanging Rock Racing Club had suffered a great loss, the club’s secretary, Mr. V. B. Wilson, said last night. “We made great strides during his three years in office,” he said.

“Sir Errol Knox was a good citizen of Woodend district,” Mr. Wilson added. “As a personal friend, I know he was never so happy as when he was driving his tractor on his property up here.”

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