Poppy Logo

Allan Garfield Chapman

Alan Garfield Chapman2nd Lieutenant Allan Garfield Chapman, 172220, Second Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

Allan Garfield Chapman was born in Leeds in 1920, the son of Harry Garfield Chapman and Annie Stephen, who married at the United Methodist Church, Lady Lane, Leeds on the 23rd May 1912. Harry, (born in 1884) was 29 years old and a schoolmaster of 20, Grange Avenue, Leeds and Annie Stephen, of 79, Reginald Terrace, Leeds, the 27 year-old daughter of Methodist Minister, William Stephen, who officiated at the marriage. Allan Garfield Chapman appears to have been the eldest son of three born to the couple between 1920 and 1925.

In February 1915, Harry Garfield Chapman, then of Hyde Park, Leeds, a school teacher, volunteered to serve his Country in the Army Service Corps. He served in India for a time and achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was demobbed on the 27th April 1919 and his service during WW1 may explain why the couple married in 1912, but did not have their first child, Allan, until 1920.

In 1939 Harry and his wife Annie were living at "Overdale", West Wells, Ossett. The couple have Lily Stephen, born 1861, living with them, who was probably Annie’s mother. In addition it seems likely that their three sons, including Allan, were also living there with their parents although the names are currently redacted in the record.

Harry Chapman, aged 56 years, B.A. Hons. (Cantab.) scholar of Queen's College, Cambridge, was the Headmaster of Ossett Grammar School and also an Air Raid Warden during WW2. The Chapmans retired to Worthing in Sussex after living in Ossett. In 2016, the Chapman family home, "Overdale" has a Marlborough Street, Ossett address.

The 2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were based at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire when war broke out in 1939. They were deployed to France with the BEF and were involved in some of the heaviest fighting in the Dunkirk campaign. They returned to the UK in June 1940 after evacuation from Dunkirk. Alan Garfield Chapman was gazetted on the 28th February 1941, which is probably when he joined the Cameronians as a Second Lieutenant.

The "Ossett Observer" carried this extensive obituary for Lieutenant Chapman:1

"DEATH OF LT. ALAN CHAPMAN, OSSETT"

"Tragic End of Promising Career"

The announcement of the sudden death last weekend of Second Lieutenant Alan Garfield Chapman, of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), son of Doctor and Mrs. H.G. Chapman, Overdale, Ossett, came as a painful surprise to the towns people generally, and the deepest sympathy is felt with the loss of a young man whose brilliant academic attainments and personal qualities had given promise of an unusually distinguished career.

SCHOLASTIC CAREER

Born in Leeds, twenty-one years last July, he came to Ossett in 1924, when his father was appointed headmaster of the grammar school. After attending the preparatory department, he proceeded to Batley Grammar School where he matriculated at the early age of 13. He won many special prizes at Batley, including the Grand Concours (under the auspices of the Société Nationale des Professeurs de Français en Angleterre) and also participated actively in the general life of the school. He was keenly interested in the dramatic and musical side, and performed in the production of "HMS Pinafore" and "Ruddigore"; he was a regular player with the school chess team, and very successful in his games. He took part in cross-country running and other forms of sport, and was a particularly powerful swimmer, gaining the First-Class and Life-Saving Certificates the same day, and receiving the Silver and Bronze Medals.

He was awarded a County Major Scholarship and won an Open Exhibition at Queens' College, Cambridge where he obtained a First-Class in the Modern Languages Tripos, Part 1. He was awarded the college modern languages prize , and was elected Scholar. His B.A. was conferred in August, 1941, by proxy. During his stay at the university he was largely instrumental in forming a Language Club, which went under the name of "Auerbachs Keller", and was attended by students from the Languages School as well as by some of the lecturers and tutors. The time was mainly spent in German play reading. He spent several months of one year in France for language purposes, and also paid many visits to Germany, one of which he studied at Bonn University.

MILITARY AND LOCAL SERVICE

He joined up in August 1940, with the Scottish Rifles, and spent some time with the O.T.C. at Cambridge, being granted a commission last February. He was selected for the Military Intelligence Service, but showed a preference for regimental duty. He was posted with the Scottish Rifles for a time in Scotland and latterly in Northern Ireland. He was very happy in his unit, applying himself keenly to his duties, and also taking part in the regimental sports, including Rugby football. During leave and holiday periods, he spent a good deal of his time in voluntary works with the air raid precautions service at No. 50 Post, Prospect Road with Mr. Finnigan and the other wardens frequently expressing appreciation of his genial company and assistance. He also never failed to make a call, when home, at the local Toc H headquarters, where he was always heartily welcomed. Of commanding presence (he was 6ft 4 inches in height and proportionally built), he was also of a retiring and kindly disposition, which allied to the cheerful and rational outlook on life, gained for him sincere friendships and the esteem of all that knew him.

INQUEST AND FUNERAL

The circumstances attending the death were investigated at an inquest at Armagh on Tuesday, when evidence was given that Lieutenant Chapman had taken part in a military rugby match shortly before his death. Lieutenant Johnson said that the going had been heavy during the match. He added that he did not see Chapman receive a injury. Major Graham, another member of the team, said after the game, he noticed that Chapman's eye was slightly discoloured. Later, in the shower bath of the officer's mess, he found Chapman lying unconscious in the corner. Captain G.W.A. Dick, medical officer said death was due to heart failure, possibly as a result of sudden stimulus such as cold water taken either internally or externally when in a heated condition. A verdict of "Death From Natural Causes" was returned.

The casket containing the body was brought home to Ossett on Wednesday, accompanied by a fellow officer, the pipes playing as it left the Regiment. The funeral was at Lawnswood on Thursday, the bearers being six NCOs of the Royal Corps of Signals. The services at home and in the chapel at Lawnswood were conducted by the Rev. Brynley L. Jones (chaplain to the forces). A large wreath of white chrysanthemums, bearing the inscription "From all ranks, 2nd Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)" rested on the casket.

HEADMASTER'S TRIBUTE

Mr. A.S. Banstead, M.A. (headmaster of Batley Grammar School) pays the following striking tribute:- A.G. Chapman came to Batley Grammar School in September 1929, from the preparatory department of Ossett Grammar School. He was then only nine years old, but he stood out at once as a most promising pupil in a form of boys much older than himself. He maintained this promise to the end of his school days, winning a County Major Scholarship in 1937 and an Open Exhibition at Queens' College, Cambridge in 1938. After a year in residence there, he was elected scholar of the college, and at the end of his second and final year was placed in the first-class of the Modern Languages Tripos (French and German).

Alan was still under 20 when he completed this brilliant university career, and passed from the senior training corps to the ranks of the Scottish Rifles (The Cameronians). He was quickly selected for an officer cadet training unit, and flung himself into his new career with all the zest he had shown in school and college. Then came the offer of a commission in the Intelligence Branch, an offer which he rejected because he preferred to be in a fighting service and because he wanted, above all, to be back with his regiment, the Cameronians.

To the Cameronians, he went as a second-lieutenant, and his pride in them was unlimited. I shall never forget the last time I saw him. He was spending an evening at the School House at the end of his last leave, and it happened there was a broadcast that night of the pipes of the Cameronians with a brief account of the regiment's history. His face glowed with pride as he listened, an I felt here was a young officer who would uphold at any cost the finest traditions of his regiment, and that's how I always thought of him at school. His standards of work, sportsmanship and character were always high, and his influence fine. He lives on in the memory of his contemporaries, and they will always value his friendship and be inspired by the example of his cheerful courage and loyalty. We have lost one of the best of a group of very, very fine boys who were in the sixth form with him."

Lieutenant Allan Garfield Chapman died on the 22nd November 1941, aged 21 years and is remembered on Screen Wall, Panel 1 at Leeds (Lawnswood) Crematorium and on the Ossett Grammar School WW2 Memorial plaque.2

References:

1. "Ossett Observer", Saturday, November 29th 1941.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site