The details provided about the wartime experiences of Lance-Corporal Harry W Champion by the St Andrew’s, Oxshott, parish magazine are brief but in many ways seem to typify those of other young men of this period.
Lance-Corporal Champion joined the East Surreys as a Private and on 1 June 1915 he entered service in France. The following year, in March 1916, the magazine reported that:
A large congregation gathered to witness the marriage of Mr Harry W Champion and Miss Emily E Simmonds on Monday, February 14th. The choir were present and sang the service. The happy pair had only a short honeymoon, as Mr Champion had to return within the week to his military duties somewhere in France. We wish them every happiness. Amongst the many wedding presents were a case of silver spoons from the choir and a wristlet watch from the members of the Men’s Club.
Nothing more was recorded until July 1918, when the magazine advised that H W Champion, by now a Lance-Corporal, was still with the East Surreys and had completed three years’ continuous service in France.
Only a month later, in August 1918, parishioners were advised that Lance-Corporal Champion was in hospital with pneumonia, ‘but is going on well’. Unlike so many others, Harry was to survive the influenza pandemic. He was discharged from the army on 25 January 1919, and passed away in 1962 at the age of 75.
St Andrew’s, Oxshott, Parish Magazines, March 1916, July 1918, August 1918, SHC Ref. 8909/8/1/4.