Private Christopher Douglas Elphick
|Date of Birth||7 January 1889|
|Age at Death||28|
|Date of Death||15 May 1917|
|Military Service||2nd Battalion Honourable Artillery Company|
|Merton Address||68 Garden Avenue, Mitcham|
|Local Memorial||St. Barnabas' Church, Mitcham|
Born in Dulwich on 7 January, 1889, Christopher Douglas Elphick was second child of Christopher and Louisa Elphick. The couple also had an older daughter, Dorothy and their youngest child was Grace Ann. Christopher Elphick senior was a civil servant, acting as superintendent of telegraphs for the Post Office. This rapidly improved his family’s fortunes. In 1891 the Elphicks were living at 4 Placquette Road, Camberwell, however by 1901 they had transferred to 4 Ardsley Terrace and just a few years later they had moved to an eight room house at 28 Hillsborough Road, Dulwich, where Christopher attended Alleyn’s School.
After completing his education, Christopher (Jr ) worked as a clerk for the Prudential Insurance Company. On 26 June, 1915, he married Hilda Bignold of Streatham, at St. Barnabas Parish Church, Dulwich. (This was the same church where he had been baptised in 1905, at the age of 16.) The young couple set up home at 68 Garden Avenue in Mitcham and had a son, Ronald Douglas, born on 11 August, 1916.
Christopher had volunteered for military service in London on 25 November, 1915. He became a private in the 2nd Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company. His enlistment papers described him as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 121 lbs, with bad teeth. Despite his dental condition, Christopher was declared fit for service and his unit was despatched for France, arriving in Le Havre on 19 November, 1916. He arrived at the front on 5 December, 1916. The 2nd Battalion was involved in fighting at Bucquoy, an area near Arras which had been filled with trenches and barbed wire as the German second line of defence.
Between 9 April and 16 May, Christopher’s unit was involved in the Battle of Arras, a major assault on German defences near the French city. He was reported missing on 15 May, 1917 and was eventually declared dead. He is commemorated locally on the War Memorial at St. Barnabas Church in Mitcham. Records show that amongst his effects, he left £527 to his widow, Hilda.
In 2009, Christopher’s body, along with those of three of his comrades, was found by a French farmer, in the field where they died in battle. His body was able to be identified by a gold signet ring bearing his initials. His grandchildren were traced, and were able to attend the ceremony where he was buried with full military honours at the H. A. C. Cemetery at Ecoust-St. Mein in the Pas de Calais region of France. He also had a waiting room at King’s Cross Station named in his honour.