Stanley Corsellis Randall

Stanley Corsellis Randall
Stanley Corsellis Randall

A WIGAN soldier whose quick thinking during World War One service saved the lives of numerous men has been remembered.

Stanley Corsellis Randall, from Appley Bridge, uncoupled the rolling stock from a railway truck full of ammunition which had caught fire and exploded while serving in Belgium in April 1918.

Although four people sadly died in the incident during the final months of the conflict, Mr Randall and his colleagues’ prompt actions saved the lives of many troops by preventing the entire ammunition dump going up in flames and saw him given the Military Medal for bravery and gallantry.

The railways played a central part in Mr Randall’s life as he worked his entire civilian career in the industry, rising through the ranks at the London North Western company to become a stationmaster and then a regional auditor.

Mr Randall was 34 when he joined the Royal Engineers in 1916, serving in Flanders in the fierce fighting around the town of Ypres and the taking part in the Battle of Passchendaele.

However, his war continued until the year after the horrific slaughter on the Western Front finally ended, spending time in France and attending the signing of the historic Treaty of Versailles which set the terms of peace between the former enemies in 1919.

Mr Randall’s granddaughter Christine Barbour-Moore spoke with pride at her achievements and recalled how, unlike many veterans of World War One, he would tell her stories about his experiences in the trenches when she was young.

She said: “He was awarded the medal for an incident when an ammunitions truck was being unloaded and one of the rolling stock caught fire.

“My grandfather and other soldiers succeeded in uncoupling the first truck.

“Unfortunately another truck caught fire and caused a massive explosion, and three soldiers and the train driver were sadly killed, but the brave and quick action of my grandfather and others prevented more fatalities.

“When I was growing up my grandparents lived with us and he would tell me stories. I distinctly remember him talking about the rats, that always stuck in my mind, and he told me letters from home gave him great strength and happiness at the front.

“I also recently found his diary where he wrote about a shell falling near his dugout and how he had never felt such fear in all his life.

“The stories didn’t mean much to me as a little girl but now I’m just fascinated by it. I’ve also started finding out more about the soldiers who were killed in the Flanders incident because I think it’s quite moving, and I’ve found out where they are buried.”

Born in 1882, Mr Randall began working on the borough’s railway system before attending Manchester Victoria University in 1907 to study railway accountancy.

Despite returning to his previous career after the war, he did not completely cut his ties with the military as he transferred to the reserves when he returned to Britain.

Parts of his life story have already been told as his wife Bessie wrote Light and Shade, a memoir covering her life from living in Appley Bridge in 1891 to her husband’s return from war in 1919, which Christine is currently hoping to get published.

Christine, 63, said: “He did quite well because he built himself up, he was a very polished and educated man.”