Raymond Champ was born on 30th March 1880, one of eight children to coachman William Champ and his wife Eliza. While Raymond was born in the West Sussex village of Cowfold, within a year, the family had moved to Worthing, settling in the Broadwater area of the town.
The 1901 census gives more of an insight into Champ family life. William by now is listed as unable to work and gives his infirmity as paralysed. There are no newspaper records evident to highlight an accident of any sort, so the cause of his paralysis, and his inability to work, are destined to remain a mystery. The document does show, however, that the other members of the family stepped up to fill in the shortfall of money; Eliza was working as a laundress, Raymond was a bricklayer’s labourer, and his younger brother Francis (or Frank) was employed as a milk boy.
Fast forward ten years, and the next census give further information. It confirms that William was paralysed when he was 45 years old (in around 1894/1895). Raymond, now aged 30, was still working as a bricklayer, Frank was an iron founder, and the youngest brother, George, was a baker.
Raymond was a keen footballer, and went on to captain the Silverdale Football Club. By the time war broke out, he had found work at Wenban Smith, a renowned timber supplier in the town. The call to arms came, however, and, in September 1914, he enlisted.
Private Champ joined the Royal Sussex Regiment, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion. Shipped overseas in February 1915, he served on the Western Front, but his time there was not to be a lengthy one. A local newspaper report picked up Raymond’s story:
The wretched conditions which our Troops had to contend with during February and March proved too much for his constitution, and having the misfortune to contract bronchitis, he was invalided home in April, being taken to one of the Military Hospitals in Manchester.
His recovery was regarded as hopeless from the first, but the careful nursing and attention which he received there brought about a temporary improvement, and he was eventually discharged in order that he might return to his home, where his death occurred on Sunday week.
The funeral on Thursday afternoon was of a very impressive character, and despite a heavy deluge of rain, there was a large number of sympathising friends at the Cemetery to pay the last tribute of respect.Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 14th July 1915
Private Raymond Champ passed away on 4th July 1915 and just 35 years old. His body was laid to rest in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing, not far from where his family were living.