These are the images from the photograph album of Randolph Arthur Chell who served with the 10th Essex during the First World War. They show trips to Stobs Camp by the Reading Officers Training Corps in July 1913 and 1914. Randolph can be seen sitting at the far right of the front row.
Randolph’s student friend, Harold Chamen, is at the left hand end of the standing row. He served with the Bedfordshire Regiment and died, aged 22, on 1st August 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.
Randolph was the eldest son of the village schoolmaster, born in Tillingham, Essex in 1893. He was destined to take on his uncle’s pharmacy business. In August 1912 he received a scholarship to study science at University College, Reading, beginning his studies in the autumn. He did not get to complete his studies and his career took a different path following the war.
Randolph would probably have considered himself very fortunate to have survived the First World War when so many of his friends and colleagues were not so lucky. But other people would say that he had a good war.
He co-wrote “With 10th Essex in France” with Lt Col T M Banks, which was an account of the Battalion’s experiences and must have drawn on their War Diary for which Randolph wrote most of the entries. The book was republished in 2006.
Randolph’s distinguished service record reads:
15.10.1912 Enrolled into the Officers Training Corps, University College, Reading
14.09.1914 Appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Essex Regiment and posted to the 10th Battalion
25.11.1914 Promoted to Lieutenant
15.05.1916 Promoted to Captain
25.05.1916 Appointed Adjutant 10th Essex, France
26.12.1917 Posted to 18th Division Headquarters
12.01.1918 Transferred to the General List
12.01.1918 Appointed Staff Captain, posted to 55th Infantry Brigade
16.04.1918 Appointed Brigade Major
21.02.1919 Relinquished Commission
Randolph Arthur Chell was awarded the Military Cross, recorded in the London Gazette on 28 April 1917 with 1st bar being added on 2 April 1919.
He also received the Distinguished Service Order (recorded in the London Gazette on 1 January 1919).
With thanks to Hilary Chell, Randolph Arthur Chell’s granddaughter, for sharing the images and story with us.