2nd Lt
Randal Alexander Casson

Information about birth

Date of birth:
11/10/1893
Place of birth:
Chelsea, Surrey, England, United Kingdom

General information

last known residence:
Bron-y-garth, Porthmadog, Caernarfonshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Army information

Country:
England, United Kingdom
Force:
British Expeditionary Force
Rank:
Second Lieutenant
Enlistment date:
01/02/1917
Units:
 —  Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
26/09/1917
Place of death:
Black Watch Corner, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
23

Cemetery

Poelcapelle British Cemetery
Plot: LV
Row: F
Grave: 12

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Randal Alexander Casson, a former student, was born on 11 October 1893 in Chelsea, Middlesex, England. He was the only son of Randal and Lucy Jane Casson. Randal was educated at Winchester and Christ Church College. He was part of the University Contingent of the Officers’ Training Corps and commenced service in September 1915. Randal served as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, part of the 19th Brigade, of the 33rd Division.

The 33rd Division took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood. On the 26th of September 1917 it attacked with the 5th Australian Division on their left and the 39th Division on their right. The objective of the division was a line running south form Joist Farm to Polderhoek Chateau, then turning southwest to the Menin Road-Polygonestraat crossroad. The 33rd Division advanced with the 98th Brigade on the left and the 100th Brigade on the right. The 19th Brigade was placed in divisional reserve near Bedford House.

The 98th Brigade attacked at 5:30 a.m. but a German artillery barrage was able to break up this attack. Eventually they were only able to join the troops holding the line near Black Watch Corner, well short of their objective. Since the attack failed troops from the brigade in reserve were called to the front.

At 8:15 a.m. on the morning of the 26th of September 1917 the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers received orders at 8:15 to attack and consolidate the line running from Cameron House to Reutelbeek. Around 10 a.m. they moved from Sterling Castle to Black Watch Corner. They reached this position at 11:45 a.m., having suffered about 15 casualties form shellfire. They formed up along the Oude Kortrijkstraat, running along the southern side of Polygon Wood. At noon the battalion attacked in a southerly direction, capturing a line running diagonally from Carlisle Farm to a point between Jerk House and Cameron House. About 120 men became casualties during the attack. At dusk the battalion fell back to connect with the Australians on the left. This line ran about 200 metres south from and parallel to the Oude Kortrijkstraat, running across Jerk House.

On 27 September 1917 the battalion received orders to mop up resistance at Cameron House and Jut Farm with the Australians and a company of the 5th Battalion Scottish Rifles. The attack was successful, suffering only slight casualties and taking 14 prisoners at Jut Farm. That evening the battalion was relieved by the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. This relief was completed by 10:15 p.m.

Randal Alexander Casson, aged 23, was killed in action on September 26th, 1917. He was killed when a shell struck the shell hole where he, Major Poore and Second Lieutenant Campbell-Colquhoun were sheltering. All three were killed. Frank Richards, the author of ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ gives more details about the death of Second Lieutenant Casson: “There was a strong-point called Black Watch Corner, which was a trench facing north, south, east and west. A few yards outside the trench was a pill-box which was Battalion HQ... The enemy now began to heavily bombard our position, and Major Poore and Mr. Casson left the pill-box and got in a large shell-hole which had a deep, narrow trench dug in the bottom of it. They were safer there than in the pill-box, yet in less than fifteen minutes a howitzer shell had pitched clean into it, killing both of them. During the day shells fell all around the pill-box, but not one made a direct hit on it.” Second Lieutenant Casson was initially buried near Black Watch Corner at 28.J.9.d.00.10. His remains were recovered and identified on 14 June 1923. His remains were exhumed and interred at Poelcapelle British Cemetery, Plot LV, Row F, Grave 12.

Sources 7

"2nd Lieutenant Randal Alexander Casson RA," Christ Church Fallen Alumni
https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/fallen-alumni/2nd-lieutenant-randal-alexander-casson-ra
Sources used
19 Brigade: Headquarters (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), British Army war diaries 1914-1922, WO 95/2421/2).
https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Sources used
2 Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), British Army war diaries 1914-1922, WO95/2423/1).
https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Sources used
Frank Richards, Old Soldiers Never Die (London: Faber & Faber, 1933).
Sources used
Gerald Festus Kelly, Second Lieutenant Randal Alexander Casson, 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers (Royal Welch Fusiliers Regimental Museum, Caernarfon, 3933).
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/second-lieutenant-randal-alexander-casson-2nd-battalion-royal-welch-fusiliers-18931917-181513
Sources used
McCarthy Chris, Passchendaele: The Day-by-Day Account (Londen, Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018), 93.
Sources used
Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (London: Faber & Faber, 1930).
Sources used

More information 3