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
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
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.
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.”