Joseph and Hannah Knowles are known to have had seven children together before she died in 1897, aged 40. This may have been whilst giving birth to the youngest, Peter, who was three when the 1901 Census was taken. The other children recorded on the Census are Emily (then 18), Lillian (16), Edith (15), Bessie (10, Frank (9) and Albert (5). Joseph remarried in 1899, to Harriett Bounds and, at time of the Census, the family was living at the home of her sister, Mary, at Lorne Terrace, Compstall. The family had originally lived in New Mills before moving to Hayfield (where Bessie, Frank and Albert had been born). Peter is the only child born in Compstall.
Some time after this, the family moved to "Oak Dene" in Marple Bridge. Frank worked at Compstall Mill and was a very skilled cotton spinner. In 1914, he won the "Bronze Medal for All England" for his spinning. He had a commitment to improving himself and attended evening technical classes in Stockport. This commitment to further education extended to others and he was Secretary of the local Congregational Church Sunday School.
Albert was the first of the Knowles brothers to enlist. He joined the 21st Manchester in the autumn of 1914, later transferring to the 20th Battalion when he returned to duty after recovering from "trench foot". It was not until the middle of 1916 that Frank joined up and, around the same time, news of the worst kind came to Marple. Albert had been killed, on 3 September, during the Battle of the Somme.
Frank had probably completed his training by the end of 1916 and will have joined his Battalion in France. His few weeks in the front line will have been relatively quiet. There were no major attacks but the men would have still been subject to shellfire and the risk of the sniper's bullet. However, regimental records published after the War show Frank as having "died". This is a designation normally indicating a death from natural causes, or accident (as opposed to "died of wounds" or "killed in action"). Frank was in a military hospital well away from the front line when he died. There are no further details.