Date of birth: October 1890
Parents: Frank Robert and Kate Randall
Wife: Violet Lizzie Randall (nee Maskell)
Address: 7 Priory Road
Occupation: Gardener - working for the Duke of Westminster
Robert (Bob) was born in Warwick in October 1890. His father Frank Robert Randall was a Tailor and his mother was called Kate. Bob was the oldest of six children. He had two brothers, William and Frank, and three sisters, Kate, Emily and Florence.
In 1911 Bob was living in Lingfield, Surrey working as a Journeyman Gardener.
Clare Randall – Bob’s Great Niece writes:
The following information is taken from my father’s notes and memoires:
As you know Robert “Bob” Randall joined the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders – apparently the regimental records at Stirling and in the Book of Remembrance show him as being born in Banff – perhaps he had to fabricate this story to enable him to join the regiment!
Bob met his future wife, Violet “Vi” of Wilburton, Cambridgeshire when he was head gardener and she was in service, both at Holkham Hall, on the North Norfolk coast. We are not sure when they met exactly. I’m guessing that’s where they were when he joined up.
Interestingly the 3rd Earl of Leicester who owned Holkham Hall at the time of the Great War had served in the Scots Guard in the Boer War and subsequently during WW1, and that may have played a part in Bob’s choice of regiment.
Interestingly, Frank Randall [Bob’s younger brother] and Beatrice Randall [Vi’s younger sister] were best man and bridesmaid and married seven years later on 2nd July 1923. There must have been a connection because my grandmother was in Norwich working, and my grandfather was in Warwick.
Bob’s widow never remarried and lived with her sister and her husband on the family farm in Wilburton until she died. Being a small East Anglian village, the war had decimated the male population and there simply weren’t any men to remarry, even if she was so inclined. Having come from a strict, religious family where drinking was frowned upon, it was possible that widowhood was her fate.
Another significant consequence of the war was that Bob’s father’s tailoring business in Warwick suffered. He had supplied country estates with the servants’ clothing. But the Great War changed all that. Country estates had to be run down because the male servants joined the services and females went into nursing and war work, such as armament factories. Many of the estate owners and their sons were either Army reservists or members of the Yeomanry. Whilst the war meant that liveries were no longer needed, uniforms were. One door closed and another one opened but with one significant difference. Newly commissioned Officers required uniforms: these were ordered, produced and fitted and as usual, a bill was made out but no money changed hands until service had generated enough cash. The officer went off to war and was sadly killed, so any debts died with them and no payment was made.
The family tailoring business was therefore in trouble because there was no money to buy cloth and it all became too much for Bob’s Father, Frank. Without saying anything to his family, he committed suicide by drowning in the canal along the Myton Road on the 11th April 1916. A terrible step to take but it meant that all the debts died with him. The suicide was never spoken about, and my father found out by accident. Such a sad period in our history, with so many lives lost. Not just in warfare.’
The excerpts below from the Warwick Advertiser shows that Bob worked as a gardener for several wealthy families. It also tells us that his brothers William and Frank were serving in Salonika and Mesopotamia.
Rank & Number: Corporal, 4550
Regiment/Service: 58th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Date of death: Thursday, July 06, 1916
Cause of death/Battle: Died of wounds
Commemorated/Buried: Heilly Station Cemetery, Somme
Awards: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Commemorated locally at: St Nicholas Church
Bob enlisted on 1st March 1915 and the Warwick Advertiser of 15th May 1915 reports that he and his brother had both just been promoted. Robert was made a Lance Corporal in the 3rd Service Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and his brother William a full corporal in the Army Service Corps (attached to 11th Division).
At that time, his parents’ address was given as St Johns, Warwick
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser excerpts courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office
- Photos of Bob in his uniform and of Bob and Violet’s wedding, together with family memoires are courtesy of Clare Randall – Bob’s Great Niece