Serial No. 2612
17th Battalion & 55th Battalion
Joseph Criss - Information
Joseph Criss was born in Ashfield in 1884, spending his childhood in the area. In 1906, he married the love of his life, Campbelltown born Jessie Amy Lusted, and were blessed with four children. Joseph and his family settled in the Sydney suburbs, where he found work as a printer. When he was 31 years old, he enlisted at Warwick Farm Depot on the 1st of August 1915.
Joseph was posted to the 17th Battalion and left Sydney onboard the HMAT Euripides on the 2nd of November 1915. He arrived at Heliopolis, Egypt in December. He was then transferred to the 55th Battalion at Zeitoun in February 1916, and was marched into Tel-el-Kebir Camp. Josephâs unit left Alexandria in June for the trenches in France. Joseph experienced the horrific Battle of Fromelles on the 19th July. The intensity of the bombardment and German machine gun fire was unimaginable. On the 20th of July 1916, he managed to get back to the lines considerably shaken. The following day, he was taken by ambulance train to the 25th General Hospital in Calais with shell shock. He was then evacuated to England on the 23rd of July where he was diagnosed with neurasthenia. Considering the era, the full effects of what is now PTSD were unknown, and symptoms varied. Unfortunately for Joseph, he was continuously taken back and forth from hospital to the frontlines. On the 1st of December he rejoined his unit, and just 16 days later was back in an English hospital. By August 1917, he was again at the front, and in September, back in hospital with shell shock, and was readmitted in February 1918.
While Joseph was suffering from the continued effects of shell shock, his wife Jessie received little news from him. From the start of 1917, she wrote the army letters to find out what happened to her husband and where he was. The army had advised Jessie that Joseph was in hospital suffering with neurasthenia. But she received little to no correspondence from him, and by October 1917, she had packed up the children and moved to Moss Vale.
On the 8th of April 1918, Joseph was invalided back to Australia aboard the Dunluce Castle. He was classed as medically unfit for duty diagnosed with phlebitis debility, possibly connected to his shell shock.
Joseph reunited with his family, and eventually moved to Campbelltown, where sadly he lost his wife in 1940. Joseph then witnessed his three sons, Joseph Herbert, Frederick James and Edgar Lewis following in his footsteps, enlisting in the army during the Second World War. Luckily, Josephâs sons all returned home safe, before he passed away in 1952, and was buried alongside his wife in Campbelltown Presbyterian Cemetery.