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Edgar Chappell

Edgar ChappellSergeant Edgar Chappell, 812183, 16 Battery, 2 H.A.A. Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery.

Edgar Chappell was born in Ossett in summer 1912. The youngest son of Arthur Chappell and his wife nee Kellett. The couple had another son, Leslie Chappell, who died aged 10 years in 1925. Edgar married Violet Idle in 1934 in the Dewsbury Registration District and they had a son Leslie B. Chappell, born in 1936, in the Dewsbury Registration District and probably named after his deceased younger brother.

At the outbreak of World War II, 2nd RHA was assigned to 1st Support Group of The Armoured Division. In October 1939, it moved to France where it was placed under direct command of General Headquarters, BEF. It was still serving with the BEF when the Battle of France broke out in May 1940. From January to May 1941, it was assigned to 1st Armoured Brigade and took part in the Battle of Greece.

The Greek campaign ended with a complete German and Italian victory. The British did not have the military resources to carry out big simultaneous operations in North Africa and the Balkans. Moreover, even had they been able to block the Axis advance, they would have been unable to exploit the situation by a counter-thrust across the Balkans. On the 30 April 1941, the evacuation of 42,311 Commonwealth soldiers from Greece is completed. The Germans manage to capture around 7-8,000 Commonwealth troops.

The "Ossett Observer" had this report of the death of Sergeant Edgar Chappell:1

"Ossett Soldiers Death - Sergeant E. Chappell, Flushdyke. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Chappell, 55 Wakefield Road, Flushdyke have received notification from the War Office that their youngest son, Sergeant Edgar Chappell, aged 28 years has died in hospital in Greece. He had been reported missing since April 28th 1941 whilst on service in the Middle East. Chappell was educated at Holy Trinity Church School and Dewsbury Wheelwright Grammar School where he obtained his matriculation certificate. After school, he served six years in the Army, and on returning to civilian life entered the employ of Callender's Cable and Construction Limited, Ravensthorpe as a book-keeper. As a reservist, he was called up at the outbreak of war, and served in France, taking part in the Dunkirk evacuation.

As a youth, he attended Holy Trinity Sunday School, and was a keen sportsman, playing regularly for the Flushdyke Bethel Cricket Club. His wife, a native of Ravensthorpe, is a conductress on the Yorkshire bus service. They have a five year-old boy, Harrie. Much sympathy will be felt for the family in their sorrow."

Sergeant Edgar Chappell was reported missing on the 28th April 1941 and then reported as killed in action on the 10th May 1941, aged 28 years and is buried at grave 14 E 3 at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, Greece. The site of what is now Phaleron War Cemetery was chosen originally by the 4th Division as a burial ground for Commonwealth casualties of the Greek Civil War (December 1944-February 1945). Subsequently, the military authorities, in conjunction with the Greek Government and the Army Graves Service, decided that it would be the most suitable site for a Second World War cemetery for the whole mainland of Greece. The 23rd and 24th Graves Registration Units and the 21st and 22nd Australian War Graves Units worked together to bring in graves of the 1941 campaign from the battlefields, temporary military cemeteries and from various civil cemeteries.

There are now 2,029 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 596 of the burials are unidentified. Special memorials commemorate casualties known to have been interred in certain groups of graves in the cemetery, but whose individual graves cannot be precisely located within these groups. Other special memorials commemorate casualties re-buried in the cemetery from original graves which, owing to the destruction of local records, could not be identified.2

References:

1. "Ossett Observer", Saturday, September 18th 1941.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site