Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

A few years after Joseph Christopher's grandparents married in Southampton on 28th September 1845 they moved to Portsmouth. Given that his grandfather Robert James had been born at Dorset, in 1822, and his grandmother Eliza (nee Campion) came from Pimlico, London, where she had been born in 1823, it's not clear why they should have married in Southampton but there are no other entries in any marriage register which fit the facts. The subsequent move to Portsmouth was probably related to Robert's trade as a boilermaker and the likelihood of obtaining work in the dockyard.
The couple's first appearance in Portsmouth records comes in the 1851 census when they were listed as living at 21 Trafalgar Street, Portsea, a road that was later incorporated into the dockyard. With them were their three children Maria, Henry and Jane. The family is missing from the 1861 census but they reappear ten years later when they were at 40 Church Path North in Landport accompanied by six younger children, Eliza, Andrew, Walter, Richard, John and Joseph. It is Walter, who was born in 1859, that provides the next link to Joseph Christopher.
Walter James is not listed in the 1881 census, probably because he had already signed up with the Royal Navy for whom he served as a stoker into the 1900s. In 1889 he married his wife Charlotte but marriage records have not been traced so although we know that she came from Portsmouth we don't know her maiden name. The couple set up home at 33 Cressy Road, Buckland where they were to remain until after the Great War. They had only two children, Walter Henry (b. 1890) and Joseph Christopher (b. 1895)
By the time of the 1911 census Walter had left the navy and taken a job as a skilled labourer at Portsmouth Dockyard whilst Joseph Christopher was a grocer's apprentice. In the weeks after the outbreak of the Great War there was a call for the young men of Portsmouth to enlist in a local battalion, later the 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. Christopher was one of the men who heeded that call but sometime after joining he was transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Lance Corporal. His new regiment landed in France on 21st May 1916 and entered battle where Joseph Christopher was wounded. He was invalided back to England where he died in August the same year.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Joseph Christopher James, Lance Corporal (6246), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 26/08/1916, age 21. Buried at Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth, (Grave Ref: Pink's.6.14.). Son of Mrs. C. James, of 33, Cressy Rd., Landport, Portsmouth.
Joseph James is commemorated on the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War', Section X.
Tim Backhouse
February 2015