Joseph Arthur Challis came from Springfield, joined the army early in 1915 having worked in Marconi’s. He served in the Middle East, survived the war, but died from illness in December 1918 in Lebanon. His home was in Victoria Road.

Joseph was born on 28th March 1897 in Springfield, the youngest child of the baker Joseph Bragg Challis and Salome Challis (nee Nash). He was christened at Springfield Holy Trinity Church on 30th May 1897. His father had been born in 1854 in Great Baddow; his mother in 1855 in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. The couple had married in 1878 in Bishop’s Stortford. In 1881 they had been living at Arbour Lane in Springfield and in 1891 had been living at High Easter.

Joseph’s six siblings were Mabel Ellen Challis (born in 1879 in Bishop’s Stortford, died 1963), Stephen James Challis (born in 1881 in Bishop’s Stortford, died 1884), Annie Salome Challis (born 1883 in Springfield, died 1972), Edith Mary Challis (born 1885 in Writtle, died 1957), Margaret Eliza Challis (born 1887 in Writtle, died 1952), and Harriett Ann Challis (born 1890 in High Easter, died 1979).

The 1901 census found four year-old Joseph living with his parents and two sisters in Arbour Lane, Springfield (later number 12, then number 24). His father was a builder’s labourer. A decade later the 1911 census listed 14 year-old Joseph living with his parents at the same property by then known as 12 Arbour Lane. Joseph was a messenger boy for the Post Office; his father was a baker’s assistant for Co-op Stores.

Joseph completed his attestation for four years’ service as a Private with the Territorial Force (as 3267 in the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment) on 25th January 1915 at Chelmsford. He gave his address as 43 Victoria Road, Chelmsford (his parents’ home). He was described as 18 years 10 months old, five feet nine inches tall, of good physical development and with an expanded chest of 34.5 inches.


Private, 54th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) (formerly of the Essex Regiment)

On 22nd July 1915 he embarked for overseas service in the Middle East, landing in Gallipoli on 9th August 1915. In November 1915 he was still in Gallipoli where he suffered jaundice; in February 1916 was at El Hammam, and in April 1916 was attached to the 161st Brigade of the Machine Gun Corps at Shallufa.

In July 1916 he was discharged from the Territorial Force and re-enlisted as Private 49268 to the 161st Brigade of the Machine Gun Corps. On 19th February 1918 he joined the 54th Company. He spent most of August 1918 in hospital with sandfly fever at Belah. The following month he was appointed as Lance Corporal, a position he held until 26th November 1918, two days after being admitted to hospital. His condition deteriorated and he died from Malaria and Septic Bronchio Pneumonia in the American hospital on 1st December 1918. He was subsequently buried in Grave 219 at Beriut War Cemetery in Lebanon. He was 21 years-old.

On 13th December 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:

“Mr. and Mrs. Challis, 43 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, have received the news of the death of their only son. Lc.-Cpl. J. A. Challis. on Dec. 2nd, of malaria in Alexandria [sic]. He had been in Egypt over three years, and was formerly employed at Marconi’s.”

Joseph is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral.

In 1918 the register of electors listed Joseph’s parents and an absent Joseph at 43 Victoria Road. The following year his parents and sisters Annie Salome Challis & Margaret Eliza Challis, were also confirmed as resident at the address. Joseph’s sister Mabel Ellis Wheeler was living at Springfield Court, another sister, Edith Mary Challis was at 9 Riverside, Chelmsford, and another, Harriett A. Jordan was as 18 Wolseley Road, Chelmsford.

Joseph’s father died, aged 67, on 3rd September 1921 just over four months after receiving his son’s 1914-1915 Star medal. Joseph’s mother eventually died, aged 83 on 15th November 1938. Two of Joseph’s siblings Stephen James Challis and Margaret Eliza Challis died aged three on 24th November 1884 and aged 65 on 5th September 1952 respectively.