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Remembered Today:

2/Lt Randall Alexander CASSON


Maricourt
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Dear Forum Pals

2/Lt R A Casson was killed on the 26th September, 1917, at Polygon Wood. Prior to his war service with 2/RWF he attended Winchester College and spent a short time at Christ Chruch College, Oxford. He is also mentioned in Sassoon's war memoirs under the pseudonym of "Shirley".

Could some kind soul on the Forum who has access to the Winchester Memorial Volumes 1914-18 provide me with the entry details and his photograph if possible.

Similarly, if Christ Church College, Oxford published anything similar I would be interested to look at it.

Needless to say, any further additional information on 2/Lt Casson would be greatly appreciated.

With thanks.

Maricourt

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maricourt,

if no-one else obliges, ask member rflory who has an excellent set of schools and university rolls of honour etc.

LST_164

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Dear Forum Pals

2/Lt R A Casson was killed on the 26th September, 1917, at Polygon Wood. Prior to his war service with 2/RWF he attended Winchester College and spent a short time at Christ Chruch College, Oxford. He is also mentioned in Sassoon's war memoirs under the pseudonym of "Shirley".

Could some kind soul on the Forum who has access to the Winchester Memorial Volumes 1914-18 provide me with the entry details and his photograph if possible.

Similarly, if Christ Church College, Oxford published anything similar I would be interested to look at it.

Needless to say, any further additional information on 2/Lt Casson would be greatly appreciated.

With thanks.

Maricourt

Hi Maricourt,

I'm afraid that I don't have that volume of the Wykemists, so I can't help. If you don't have any joy I will ask a friend who I know has the books, but unfortunately is not local to me.

Good luck, Robert

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M

The reference for the only service file with the name CASSON R at Kew is WO339/58295.A check on the WO338 index by some privileged owner here will confirm, or not, that this is he.

Sotonmate

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The reference for the only service file with the name CASSON R at Kew is WO339/58295.A check on the WO338 index by some privileged owner here will confirm, or not, that this is he.

It is indeed he.

Steve

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Many thanks all Forum Pals for your help and advice that I can now pursue in regards to 2/Lt Casson.

Regards ... Maricourt

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  • 1 year later...

A little late but I thought this attachment might be of interest.

It's from the Tyne Cot cemetery exhibition. It was found by a local farmer a few years after the war.

post-49311-0-44213000-1336413795.jpg

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Hello Penparcau

Many thanks for posting the image of 2/Lt Randal Casson - much appreciated. Very interesting story as to how it was found.

Maricourt

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  • 10 months later...

Many thanks, Grumpy, for pointing me to the BBC website - Our Paintings. This is an excellent portrait by Gerald Kelly [Kelly's Directory family], RA.

Regards ... Maricourt

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Many thanks, Grumpy, for pointing me to the BBC website - Our Paintings. This is an excellent portrait by Gerald Kelly [Kelly's Directory family], RA.

Regards ... Maricourt

Do you have a photo of his headstone? If not PM me.

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I know that it is slightly off the point, but the cousin of Gerald Festus Kelly (later Sir Gerald) was Captain Edward Denis Festus Kelly, born 1881, who was killed in action on 30 October 1914 whilst serving with the 1st Life Guards, he was formerly in the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

In April 1915 Gerald Kelly donated a canvass for a Red Cross auction, it sold for 150 guineas.

Sir Gerald's sister was at one time married to Aleister Crowley.

Moriaty

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Dear Grumpy - Many thanks for the image of Randal Casson's headstone - a moving epitaph added by his family.

Dear Moriaty - Many thanks for Capt Edward Kelly's information. Yes, I was aware of the Crowley connection with Rose Kelly - all very fascinating!

My thanks to all previous posts.

Maricourt

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  • 9 months later...

I have come across Lieutenant Casson while looking into men from Porthmadog and Tremadog in North Wales who are buried in the Ypres Salient and found this thread. His address on CWGC is given as Bron-Y-Garth, a country house overlooking the sea now converted into holiday apartments. Siegfried Sassoon tells a moving anecdote about a walk he carried out with Casson over the Arras battlefield in the classic 'War the Infantry Knew'.

Edited by Mark Hone
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  • 2 years later...

My son and his family have moved quite close to Bron-y-Garth, home of Randal Casson. My daughter-in-law tells me that members of the Casson family were still visiting the area in recent years.

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The RWF Archive (currently at Wrexham Museum) including the regimental museum's reserve collections, holds a few items re. Casson - the original Kelly portrait and his Memorial Plaque (which was originally fitted onto the frame for display); a silver tankard given by his mother to 2nd RWF Mess post-war; his copy of a Field Service Training manual; and manuscript notes by Dunn re. his death.

They also had a visit very recently by his family. Local newspapers online contain quite a few references to the family: http://newspapers.library.wales/ eg. The Cambrian News and Merioneth Standard 4 May 1917 page 6, which has a small photo. According to the CWGC documentation, he was buried together with the OC Battalion Maj. Poore, and 2nd Lieut. Colquhoun plus a Private Henry Jones from Shotton, Flints.. They were found in 1923 in an unmarked site just within Polygon Wood and close to Black Watch Corner. Casson's body was identified, inter alia, by a ring bearing his name. All four were then reburied together at Poelcapelle.

Clive

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Thanks for this further interesting information. I did look at the location of his original burial using the trench map convertor. Seems a little odd that he and his comrades were reinterred at Poelkapelle rather than one of the much nearer Polygon Wood cemeteries. Presumably it depended on which cemeteries were deemed 'open' at the time: I have recently come across the case of a soldier whose body was discovered after the war on Thiepval Ridge but who was reburied in Delville Wood Cemetery.

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Good Afternoon, All.

Many thanks for the extra information on Randal Alexander Casson. It is good to know that the family have been in touch with the RWF archive at Wrexham and I will investigate further to see if they are contactable. The portrait by Gerald Kelly, RA, can be accessed by Arts UK. He is, of course, "Shirley" in Sassoon's memoirs.

My thanks ... Maricourt

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  • 2 months later...

I walked past Bron-y-Garth on the way from my son's house to Porthmadog this morning. I shall make a point of visiting his grave when I am next at Poelkapelle.

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  • 1 year later...

Mark

I'm new to this forum, but perhaps you could help me with the original site of Randal Casson's burial. I have visited the Poelcapelle Cemetary, and am familiar with Polygon Wood and Black Watch Corner. I am not aware of the trench map converter.

Although Randal was a relative that I sadly never knew, I did know his cousin Lewis Casson, when I was a boy. Lewis lost a brother, William, at Loos on 25th September 2015, on the Double Crassier. He is buried at Loos Military Cemetary.

Lewis was married to Sybil Thorndyke, who lost her younger brother, Frances, a pilot in the 11th Squadron RFC. He died on 17th August 1917 from wounds suffered two days earlier. His navigator 2/Lt H M Drake was unharmed.

Lewis also had a sister, Esther, who was my great grandmother. She married Arthur Reed, who had a brother, Henry, in the 2nd Mons. He fell on the 2nd May somewhere between La Brique and Shell Trap farm, under devastating German shelling and gas. He is buried at La Brique No. 2. 

I am trying to piece together as much as I can for the family history.

Lewis Casson joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1914 having first battled with his (socialist) conscience, then lying about his age!

I revert to quoting his biography:

"In 1916, due to his half-completed chemistry degree, he received a commission in the Royal Engineers and was tasked with working on the development of poison gas warfare. He was eventually promoted to Captain and given his own company that set up gas projectiles during The Somme and other battles. In 1917, he received a shrapnel wound in the shoulder while his company was preparing gas projectiles for which he was awarded a Military Cross. He was invalided back to England but returned to the Western Front in 1918 to resume his role on gas warfare. He was credited with creating a more efficient gas missile mechanism. By autumn, he was sent on a mission to Washington to discuss gas warfare as a secretary of the Chemical Warfare Committee. His brother was killed during the war."

I am in the process of piecing the (ever more numerous) pieces of the historic family puzzle together. Any help would be very welcome.

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5.36        Second Lieutenant Randall Alexander Casson.   Randall was born 11 October 1893, his father a solicitor.  After schooling he attended Christ Church College, Oxford.  A large young man for his time, he was 6 ft 1 inches tall, chest 37 inches expanded, and weighed 149 pounds.  His commission from RMC to RWF  was dated 22 December 1915.  His file does not show to which units he was posted before he joined 2RWF 14 February 1917, but he caught influenza and was hospitalised 23 April and was convalescent 2 May 1917.  Thus he missed a very missable St George’s Day action in which  four officers and 36 OR were killed.  Sassoon saw him as a Winchester and Christ Church snob, but found him amusing, mild, and gossipy.  Frank Richards noted that he was tall, slender, an excellent map reader, a first class pianist, and a friend of Sassoon’s.  He served at various times in B Company and as Assistant Adjutant, and was holding the latter post at the time of his death 26 September 1917,  at Polygon Wood, when six other officers fell, together with 51 OR.  Casson left a will for Probate including an estimated £45 gratuity.  His effects at death were:

·         cheque books, two

·         counterfoil book and advance book

·         revolver and case

·         whistle and lanyard

·         cigarette case

·         AB 153

·         Wrist watch and strap [glass gone]

·         80 Fr Francs

The PRO file is WO 339 58295.

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From Wykehamists who died in the war 1914 - 1918, Volume 3

 

Andy

img876.jpg

img877.jpg

Edited by stiletto_33853
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Hi old boy,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

1 hour ago, old boy said:

perhaps you could help me with the original site of Randal Casson's burial.

 

If you go to this website and put 28.J.9.d.00.10 into the search box, it will show you where he was originally buried. Alternatively, If you have a quick look at how to read trench map references here, this link should open up with square J.9 in the centre, and you can use the rest of the reference (d.00.10) to find it on the trench map shown (from June 1917). You can use the transparency slider to blend it with a view of the modern landscape.

 

Regards

Chris

Edited by clk
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