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  • Commonwealth war grave headstone marking his grave at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France . Courtesy of Murray Biddle
Person Details
Retford, Nottinghamshire
Eli Randall and Mary Ann Brown married 1894 and settled down in Retford, Mary Ann’s town of birth. They lived in Beardsall Row where Eli was a railway porter. This was also the place where they bought up their nine children born between 1896 and 1914, John Henry, Walter Cecil, George, Alice, Stephen , Charles , Joyce, Nora and Janet. By 1911 Eli had been promoted and was now employed as a railway shunter. 15 year old John Henry (Harry) was also working, being employed in the local India Rubber works and 14 year old Walter Cecil as a draper’s errand boy.
24 Apr 1915
155532 - CWGC Website
1/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Seven Territorials Killed Worksop Guardian 7 May 1915 The Retford Territorials have already suffered heavily by the war, the news coming on Friday evening that seven members of the Retford Company of the Sherwood Foresters had been killed on the same day, just before leaving the trenches. The names of the seven are:- Ptes. W Pattison, a well known official and ex-player of the Town Football Club, H Husband, H Grant, H Randall, A Worthington, W Hincks, and W Johnson. Three were employees at the Northern Rubber Works, vis., Pattison, Randall and Worthington and the remainder were connected with the railway service. Some particulars of the sad affair are contained in a letter dated April 26th from Pte Frank Farrand to his parents, Mr and Mrs Farrand, 36 West Street. The letter is as follows:- “Dear Father and Mother, I received your letter on Sunday, the day we came out of the trenches, where we have been for five days. We have had a bit of bad luck this last time, for we have lost seven Retford lads, their names being, Ptes. W Pattison, H Husband, H Grant, H Randall, A Worthington, W Hincks, and W Johnson. I expect you will know by the time this letter reaches you. It is a very sad affair, but they all died like hero’s, every one. It occurred about five o’clock on Saturday night. It (April 26th) had been very quiet all day, and we were getting ready to be relieved, when all of a sudden, the Germans started to shell us, especially with trench mortars, these shells dropping clean into the trench. They blew the parapet down and then the dogs turned a machine gun on that spot. It was awful, I can tell you. But we stuck it, and this afternoon we have been highly praised by General Stuart Wortley. He also said our Company, ‘D’ and ‘B’ Company, behaved magnificently under such heavy shell fire. He also called the officers of the same Companies and eventually congratulated them. He also said next time his dispatch went to Sir John French her would put it all forward, so I think we are starting to make a name for the 8th. We lost a few Retford lads, but we cannot go in to action without having any casualties. You can take it from me, we shall always remember the 24th of April, the day of the final of the English Cup, and the day we lost our pals. We are having a five days’ rest before going in again.” Writing to his parents, Pte Fred Husband gives the following account of his brother’s death:- “Dear Mother and Dad, Just a few lines to let you know poor Herbert was killed last night whilst in action. We were side by side when he was hit. He was killed by a trench mortar, being struck in the chest. I was with him to the last. He did not linger long. It is a wonder any of us are alive to tell the tale. It was a sight I will never forget as long as I live. We had, as near as I could say, 11 killed and nine wounded. It was like hell itself. I myself, was nearly buried alive, but thank God, I was unhurt except for the shock. The scene was terrible. Most of the men waded over the knees in sludge and water to get to safety. The Lance-Corporal over Herbert’s section was killed, and there were only two left out of the ten, and most of them were Retford Lads. In fact we were lucky to have any left at all. I shall have to bear the loss as best I can. Herbert died like a true British soldier, fighting for his King and country. I looked after him all I could. Dear Mother and Dad, bear up and trust in God. I cannot write any more. Goodnight, and may God watch over and guard you from all danger, your loving son, Fred”. Mrs Grant of Velvedere Villas, Ollerton Road, has also received a letter from Pte A Parsons, as follows:- “Dear Mrs Grant, just a line to say how I sympathise with you in your great loss. I am pleased to say your son stuck to his post to the last. He has been laid to rest in the Sherwood Foresters’ burial ground, just behind the firing line. I’m sure his grave will be well looked after whenever we have a possible chance.” Lieut. E C A James also writes a postscript to this letter as follows:- “Dear Mrs Grant, I am taking the liberty of adding a personal note to this letter, as I am so busy that I have not time to write a letter. Your son is buried with all our Retford men in the Soldiers Cemetery. Please accept my deepest sympathy, E C A James, Lieut.” Pte Hincks is an only son and much sympathy is felt for Mr Hincks, an old and respected trader. Pte Hincks was 23 years of age, and had a remarkable escape soon after arriving at the front, being wounded by a bullet which passed through his cap and cut through his hair. Pte Randall, aged 29, had been three years in the Terriers. His parents, who live in Beardsall’s Row, has not yet received any intimation as to his death. Pte Pattison was a member of the Town Football Club Committee and an old player and assistant trainer. He was a nephew of Sergt, Woodward, also a famous player in the town. Another popular footballer and a member of the Beehive Club, Pte Harry Hill, has also been wounded, and is now at St Mary’s Hospita, Paddington. He was wounded in the back of the head and severely bruised by a shell. A similar obituary is also recorded in the Retford Times dated 7/5/1915 of all seven soldiers. Here is an extract:- Mr and Mrs Eli Randall, have not yet received any official intimation of the death of their son, Pte Harry Randall. Randall who was 20 years of age, had been three years in the Territorials and was formerly employed at the Northern Rubber Works
Buried in the Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium. His Brother Walter Cecil Randall was also killed in France on 12 September 1917. Research by Colin Dannatt
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth war grave headstone marking his grave at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France . Courtesy of Murray Biddle
    Harry Randall - Commonwealth war grave headstone marking his grave at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, France . Courtesy of Murray Biddle