Cousin Thomas and Comrade Tom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou may have noticed another CHAPMAN on the Gristhorpe War Memorial (Thursday’s post). Thomas William is a first cousin to Robert, and you can find him on the Shared Tree.

Serving in different regiments, it is unlikely that they ever fought side by side, but it seems that both the 12th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and the 6th Scottish Borderers were at Delville Wood in July 1916. Allied forces were tasked with taking the wood “at all costs” and from the 15th July into August the fighting was brutal, a satanic mix of close combat exchanges and intense artillery barrages. If the bodies of the fallen were found, many could not be identified. Thomas was killed on 23 July and, as one of the “missing”, is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

A comrade of Thomas in the 12th Battalion was Tom CHAPMAN, son of John William and Eliza née CAMMISH. He was not related by blood to Thomas William and Robert. Tom may well have been struck down on the same day as Thomas. He died on 27 July from wounds received during the battle for “Devil’s Wood”. He is buried at La Neuville British Cemetery at Corbie and is remembered at a family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard. Find him on the Shared Tree.

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Delville Wood

I haven’t been able to establish exactly when and where Tom CHAPMAN sustained the wounds from which he died, on this day 1916. He was serving in the 12th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and the following extract from a snowdenhouse article places him at Longueval four days earlier.

On the 23rd a joint operation by the 3rd and 5th Divisions was put into action. Both Divisions attacked from the west of Longueval with the 3rd Division on the right and the 5th Division on the left. At 3:40 am the 1st Northumberland Fusiliers advanced followed by the 13th Kings and 12th West Yorks. They made good progress advancing through the northern part of Longueval and into Delville Wood itself, until they came up against heavy machine-gun fire from the front and left. They were forced to fall back at first to Piccadilly Street and then to Pont Street. Two other battalions captured a German strong point close to the Orchard in the north of the village but after being heavy counter attacked they were also forced to retire.

“Piccadilly Street” is the road north out of the village, so I think Tom may have fallen in the area circled on the Google Earth satellite image below.

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He was taken to a nearby casualty receiving station and then, perhaps, moved to a hospital where he died.

The Battle for Delville Wood was a bitterly fought affair and South African units particularly suffered enormous casualties. Graham Leslie McCallum writes about his grandfather’s experiences on the Western Front here. Scroll down until you see photographs of Longueval and Delville, which may change the pictures you have in your mind of a French village and wood in summer.

Tom was buried in La Neuville British Cemetery, Corbie, which is about 30 km west of Longueval. He is remembered on a family grave in St Oswald’s; he has the left-hand kerb and older brother Frank the right.

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Memories of FRANK CHAPMAN, died 28 Dec 1926, aged 38.

And TOM CHAPMAN, died of wounds in France, 27 July 1916, aged 20.

Tom is on the FamilySearch Tree.