Trove Tuesday: Lieutenant, POW & World Record Holder

For today’s Trove Tuesday post, I’d like introduce William Beavis Randell, now he’s an interesting character … World War 1 Air Force Lieutenant, POW in Germany and prior to all of that a world record holder for the half-mile on a Rudge motorcycle.

It’s true, family history is far more interesting that fiction!

Now before I go any further, I need to explain just “which” William Beavis Randell this is, as so far in my family tree I have five of them, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there ends up being more again.

William Richard Randell (the paddlesteamer Captain), named his first son who was born in 1855 William Beavis Randell. Sadly this son didn’t live long, and his second child who was born in 1856 was then also named William Beavis Randell. This second son is who our story is about.

So it turns out that William was a motorbike world record holder (although I can’t find it listed on the Guiness Book of World Records, but maybe they weren’t recording them then) who then joined the Air Force and went to WW1 and while bombing Germany he was shot down, and was captured as a POW.

The Mail, 4 October 1919, p.15.

The Mail, 4 October 1919, p.15. For the full article =>

As I didn’t put the whole article above as it is a long one, you can read the full text of the article here (or click on the link above):

Cycling and Aviation
LIEUT. W. B. RANDELL, A.F.C. Will Join Air Force.
He is not so much enamoured of the  air that he dislikes the motor cycle, or   the ‘”dinkum bus” as he used to call it, but Lieut. W. B. Randell of the A.F.C., says he is going to join the permanent Australian Air Force if the Government favourably considers his application. More familiarly known as “cocker,” Lieut. Randell is one of the most daring of South Australia’s motor cyclists, who earned considerable credit in the early part of 1914  by establishing a world’s record for the half-mile 911 a Rudge machine. He was the thirty-second, man to enlist in this State, and left with the ammunition column in the first contingent on October 20, 1914. Landing at Egypt first, he went to Gallipoli and then to France, and was one of the first Australian cadets sent to Oxford (England) for the purpose of being trained for the Australian Flying Corps. In October, 1917, he secured his pilot’s certificate and went to France again with the 4th Squadron under Mjr. McLaurie, together with Capts. Pflaum’ and Cobbie. This squadron, by the way, had the record for the number of Huna brought down during the period it was there. In February, 1918, Lieut. Randell   was shot down while flying in a bombing plane over Lille at 2,000 feet from the earth, and. was taken prisoner. He was   placed in the Lille Citadel and underwent some of the Huns “Kultur” in the form of solitary confinement. Later he was taken to Bavaria and placed in a reprisal camp. Lieut. Randell can speak of Hun cruelty from personal experience. He had nine months in German hands, as it was not until after the signing of the Armistice that he got back to England. How- ever, his many friends are glad to see him back again looking hale and hearty, and we are sure that everyone wishes him the best of success.

So once again from casual browsing on Trove, big suprises emerge! And it does seem to be a recurring theme for everyone that uses it. If’ you haven’t yet visited the Trove’s Australian Newspaper’s site, do so! It’s all free, and you’ll find all sorts of fascinating stories of life and people from history.

7 Responses to “Trove Tuesday: Lieutenant, POW & World Record Holder”

  1. Jenelle McCarrick says:

    The Wentworth Beavis Randall that served in WW1 and was a pow at Holzminden was born 14 Sept, 1891, the photo you show, does that look like a man born way can chec khis WW1 AFC pilots history on line, inclduing his interview….I think you have 2 people confused…

    • Julie says:

      Great article but yes, must be Wentworth Beavis Randell ??. “Captain” William Richard’s son William Beavis Randell(Born 1856-1917) also had a son William Beavis “Bill” Randell (Born 1886-1946) but as far as I can tell had no war record although he was the same age as this WB- cousins I would think. Does anyone know which one was the Motorcycle champion?

  2. Bev McCracken says:

    Wentwowrth Beavis Randell was my great uncle, the brother of my grandfather Gordon Randell. I remember him well, and have been able to get his war records, including his prisoner of war records. His brother Cosma Randell died 23rd August 1917 when his plane was shot down in France.

    • Jenelle says:

      The International red cross records are on line, you can also look at the
      get his plane,etc..also try australian red cross records too..a spirited lad, Australian flying corps have their own site.

  3. Bev McCracken says:

    Looking at this site again, because of the Gallipoli memories today, I should mention that this person was not William Beavis Randell, although definitely in the same family. He was actually Wentworth Beavis Randell, the son of Albert Wentworth Randell, who was the son of the paddle steamer captain, William Richard Randell. He had two brothers who served in the war, Cosma Randell and Linley Randell.
    Wentworth Beavis Randell (Wenty), was born 14 September 1891 and died 18 February 1969).

  4. April Lynn Thompson says:

    This is all so interesting! I’m just learning that William Beavis Randell is my great great great great(I believe) grandfather. I love learning about my heritage!

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