Private William James Razzell

William Razzell (Left) © Dorking Museum
© Royston Williamson 2015
Photograph courtesy of William Razzell

Many thanks to Daniel Shepherd and Lenka Cathersides for this research.

William Razzell was born in Westcott in 1885 and lived at 3 Victoria Cottages, Bailey Road, Westcott, Dorking, Surrey with his father, mother and 4 younger sisters. He was, like his father, a domestic gardener. He joined the Territorial Force (a precursor to the Territorial Army.) and chose, along with many other T.F. soldiers, to fight abroad and not remain in England for ‘Home Defence’.

Surrey Brigade at Eastbourne 1912.
Published by The Brighton Mezzograph Co, York Hill, Brighton.
© Dorking Museum (K1918)

This card was sent by Bill to his mother Mrs A Razzell at 3 Victoria Cottages, Bailey Road, Westcott. He tells her that the photo was taken “on Sunday marching to Camp. We are going on alright, some fine weather now.”  A report in the Dorking Advertiser of 10th Aug 1912 stated that the Surrey Infantry Brigade were encamped over several days at Whitbread Hollow, near Beachy Head, Eastbourne The proceedings included a military tattoo, a field day and a drumhead service. 

All ranks of the 1st/5th Battalion of The Queen’s West Surrey Royal Regiment, volunteered for service and were mobilised at the start of WWI. On the 19th of October 1914, he embarked on a month and three day voyage to India whereupon he landed in Bombay on the 2nd December 1914.

He remained in India until December 1915, when his battalion was finally moved to Mesopotamia. William was promoted to Lance Corporal which meant that if the Corporal were killed in action then he would take over command of the section.

William Razzell Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser

On 11th September 1916, on a routine assault of a village (Al Sahilan), William along with 12 other men was killed. His battalion fought well, the war diary stating that ‘throughout the Battn worked most steadily frequently under heavy fire’ despite issues with medical equipment, pack animals and horses sent to the wrong places, rifles and equipment lying in heaps and ‘disappointing’ artillery. He died aged 31, and he would eventually be buried in the Basra War Cemetery.

William Razzell Death Notice 7th October 1916 © Surrey Advertiser

Back home, his name is commemorated on the South Street Memorial and at Holy Trinity church in Westcott. William was awarded the 1914 Star, The British War Medal, The Victory Medal (1914-1919), The Territorial Force War Medal. The medal rolls were collected by his mother Alice Jane Razzell, now a widower.

Signal Platoon, 1/5th Bn The Queen’s Royal Regiment, Lucknow, India 1915.
Signal Platoon, 1/5th Bn The Queen’s Royal Regiment, Lucknow, India 1915. Bill Razzell is back row  2nd from the right

© The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regimental Association. 

The following information is taken from the War Diaries of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) regiment. For a complete transcript, please visit their website


Born Westcott
Son of Mr and Mrs Alice Jane Razzell of 3 Victoria Cottages, Bailey Road, Westcott
Regiment 1st/5th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Number T/1619
Date of Death 11th September 1916
Place of Death Mesopotamia
Cause of Death Killed in Action
Age 31
Cemetery Basra War Cemetery
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