Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte C J Randall
7th (City of London) Battalion, London Regiment
Killed in action, 22.8.1918
Charles Joseph Randall was the second of Joseph and Eliza (nee Fishley) Randall’s sons to be killed in the war; the first, being William Henry, Chief Stoker on HMS Queen Mary who lost his life at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. The family home for many years was in Grove Place, close to the Jolly Farmer Public House. Charles, the youngest of the family had seven siblings: Eliza, William, Edwin, Louisa Fanny, Jessie and Ellen. Their parents married on 19 August 1866 in St Pancras. Joseph, who originated from Sussex, was a baker. Their four older children were born in Brighton. By 1880 they had moved to Weybridge where Charles was born on 21 May and baptised at St James’ Church on 19 September; he went on to become a pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street). In 1911 just Edwin and Charles remained at home. Their father had died in 1882, and William’s wife Emily and daughter Margaret shared the home in Grove Place. Charles was employed as a fancy box maker. He married Alice Lyus, another fancy box maker, in the summer of 1910 in Hackney. They were unable to live together at first as a year later he was in lodgings in Port Sunlight where he practised his trade in the soap making industry and Alice remained with her family and continued to work in the confectionery business.
Charles enlisted at Holborn, but when he did so is not clear. His battalion arrived in Le Havre on 18 March 1915, at which point they were part of the 140th Brigade in the 47th (London) Division. In February 1918 they moved to the 174th Brigade in the 58th (2/1st London) Division and were subsequently renamed the 7th Battalion. They experienced some of the major battles of the First World War: the Battle of Loos in 1915, the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917 (Passchendaele). In 1918 they returned to the Somme area; on 8 February they went into the line at Amigny-Rouy (16 km east of Amiens).
Charles was most likely with them at this time. Throughout the spring and summer his battalion was in and out of the trenches in the areas around Amiens and Albert. They do not seem to have incurred heavy casualties during this period, one exception being between 27-28 July when in the line at Lavieville and Baizieux (c. 5.4 km from of Albert) they suffered 1 officer killed, 6 wounded, 10 other ranks killed and 27 wounded. From 4-10 August they were in reserve and on the 22nd went into position at Heilly (10 km south-west of Albert). Charles was killed on this day when the Allies launched a major offensive against the Germans which saw them pushed back to their key defensive position along the Hindenburg Line. The Final Hundred Days of the war had begun.
Charles is buried in Bray Vale British Cemetery (II.D.9) at Bray-sur-Somme (8 km south-east of Albert). He was one of the original 25 men buried there in August 1918. His mother, Eliza, was still living in Grove Place at the end of the war; she died aged 87 in 1928. Her only remaining son, Edwin, continued to live in Weybridge, at Mayford, Oakdale Road until at least 1930. He died on 1 January 1941 at Alton, Hampshire.
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