The Netherlands / Monument

A tragic accident




After heavy fighting on the Peel front near Overloon and Meijel, the men of the American 7th Armoured Division were given some time to recover their breath in November 1944. A number of soldiers ended up in the South Limburg village of Ransdaal. Twelve of them were billeted with the Brull family. After a bit of banter about a tin of peaches that jeep driver Richard Knott had no intention of sharing, Corporal Walter Gapinski joked: "Give me those peaches, or I'll shoot you."

Gapinski, who had been on the battlefield, grabbed one of the rifles next to the fireplace in the living room. Confident that it was his own locked firearm, he jokingly pulled the trigger. A shot rang out. 24-year-old Knott from Tennessee was hit in the neck and fell to the ground, badly injured and bleeding profusely. Gapinski had inadvertently taken not his own gun, but the loaded and unlocked gun of 19-year-old Sam Carubba.

Knott succumbed to his injury almost immediately. Gapinski was detained pending the outcome of an investigation by the Military Police. All the people present testified that it was a tragic accident. The verdict was therefore lenient. The shooter was forced to leave his division and was transferred to another division.

A plaque opposite the former home of the Brull family in Ransdaal recalls the tragic fate of driver Knott: "Let us not forget that he too lost his life during our liberation," the text on the memorial reads. Richard Allen Knott is buried in the American Cemetery in Margraten.

Ransdalerstraat 48, 6312 AH Ransdaal