Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Gunner Edwin Chapman

Gunter, R B N
Durrant, C M
Weston, C G
Kelly, K G
Armitage, G J
Durrant, H M L
Hargreaves, J P
March, G
Dukes, W
Fowler, R
Westerman, H
Kirk, J C
Wiggins, T A
Telford, G
Harper, J W
Alexander, H W
Mason, T F
Wilkinson, W
Brown, C
Adkin, J
Barton, F
Hobman, A
Webster, A E
March, E A
Miller, G
Hannan, E
Utley, G
Walker, F
Bygrave, E W
Chapman, E
Varley, N W
Bowen, F J
Byrom, F
Backhouse, S
Dalby, M
Crossland, A
Crossley, J S
Dean, R
Frost, A E
Hodgson, F H
Holt, J
Hood, W H
Hill, W
Kitchen, T
Linfoot, E
Metcalfe, J C
Marsden, J
Pawson, W
Precious, G
Scutt, T G
Wiggins, J
Walker, E
Wood, A
Young, T
Pratt, W
Taylor, H
Dawson, G W
Lister, J
Binge, T
Atack, G
Durham, E F
Precious, G R
Wheelhouse Smith, W
Backhouse, H
Swann, J W
Burnsides, G A
Coles, W
Kelly, H W
Miles, J G
Tapsell, K

"C" Battery, 119th Army Field Artillery Brigade
Died 5th August 1917, aged 24 years

Cemetery : Oak Dump Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Grave Reference or Panel Number : C.10

Son of Henry and Annie Chapman, of Enterpen House, Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire.
Edwin was born in 1893 at Hutton Rudby, his fathers occupation being recorded in the 1901 Census as a Farmer (Employer). One of three children, his brother Henry Hutchinson was born in 1891, Elsie Mary in 1895 respectively. By the year of 1911 and aged 17 years, Edwin had found employment as a Bank Clerk with the National Provincial Bank of England. (Authors note:- The NatWest Group Remembers website records that Edwin had in fact a relative who worked for the Bank, hence his appointment as an 'Apprentice' at the Stokesley Branch. A search of census records alludes to this 'relative' being one Joseph Hutchinson, his mother's brother, recorded in the 1901 Census as occupation, 'Bank Cashier'. The website records further that Edwin, after serving his apprenticeship of three years duration, was subsequently employed at the Middlesbrough, Guisborough and Wetherby Branches). A search of numerous documents reveals that the manager of the bank during Edwin's employment was one John Lovegrove Anderson, a native of Romsey, Hampshire, himself and his family residing in Claro Bank House, Wetherby.  
Enlistment & Early Military Service
Edwin had initially enlisted into the ranks of the 21st (Service) Battalion (Yeoman Rifles), King's Royal Rifle Corps, formed in September 1915 in the most part from agricultural communities located in the north of England. Under the patronage of the Earl of Feversham of Duncombe Park, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, initial training was carried out at Duncombe Park until January 1916 when the battalion proceeded to Aldershot where it would complete the final stages of its training. Contained in the 124th Infantry Brigade of the 41st Division, the latter proceeded overseas in early May 1916 and would witness actions on the Western Front in 1916 before departing for the Italian Front in late 1917. Returning to France in 1918 and fighting in all the major actions of this year including the Spring Offensive and the Battle of the Lys, the division would also take part in the Final Advance in Flanders. In 1919, the 41st Division would form part of the Army of Occupation before being demobilised in March 1919, some units however being transferred to the 47th Division as part of the British Army of the Rhine.
Despite a lack of surviving service documents, we can piece together a reasonably accurate record of Edwin's enlistment up until his transfer to the artillery. Attesting for military service in December 1915 at Stokesley, he was then placed on the Army Reserve before being mobilised in late March 1916. Posted to the 21st Battalion, K.R.R.C., he was then issued the serial number R/20380, and posted to one of the Reserve Companies of the battalion, possibly "A" or "B" Company. Upon the departure of the 41st Division to the Western Front, he was transferred to the 24th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps on the 5th of April 1916, the latter being officially formed on the 13th of the month.
Billeted in hutments located at Raikeswood Camp, Skipton, North Yorkshire, the battalion comprised upon its formation of just four officers and 368 Other Ranks from "A" and "B" Companies respectively. It was on the 4th of May 1916 that this fledging unit was officially appointed their Commanding Officer, one Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Leonard Paul Irby.
It was on the 5th of May that the 24th Battalion now proceeded to the north-east, taking up billets in Gloucester Lodge Camp near Blyth. Now absorbed into the 21st Reserve Infantry Brigade, the stay at Gloucester Lodge was of a short duration as on the 18th of the month they then went under canvas at the North Camp, located at Cambois. Facilities were simple however men were kept busy in all forms of military disciplines and in addition to these, sports competitions were arranged with local sides that included both football and cricket matches. The month would close with the arrival of a plethora of officers of different ranks and from a variety of regiments and on the 3rd of June, another draft was received by the battalion numbering 112 men from the Depot located at Winchester. As a consequence of their arrival, "C" Company was formed, a further draft from the Depot comprising of 226 men on the 13th of the month adding to the formation of "D" Company on the following day. On the 16th, yet another draft arrived numbering 119 men, this making the strength of the battalion, not including officers, 1153 N.C.O.'s and men. Musketry practice was a vital part of the mens training and to this end, parties were sent to Whitley Bay each week to commence their General Musketry Course. The battalion maintained the best averages in the 21st Brigade each week after the first and second weeks of firing, and on the whole, after completing Parts 1 - 4, the musketry skills of the men on average was described as "very good". 
By the 10th of July, the battalion had received a further 118 drafts, this, taking the strength of the unit to 1271 men. With the primary role of the battalion to provide drafts for service overseas, it was on this date also that the first of their number was despatched, 11 men being posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion contained in the 14th (Light) Division, whilst on the 15th, 25 men proceeded to join the 20th (Service) Battalion, Pioneers to the 3rd Division respectively. A further draft was also posted on the 24th, this comprising of 35 men who were destined for service with the 16th (Service) Battalion of the 33rd Division who had recently been engaged in heavy fighting during the Battle of the Somme.
Drafts contined to be sent to various units during August when on the 10th, 60 men were posted to France to join the ranks of the 10th (Service) Battalion contained in the 20th (Light) Division. Cosham, Portsmouth, was the destination for a draft of 50 men on the 23rd of August, this draft being posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to be fiited out prior to a move to Mesopotamia. A further draft of 44 men was despatched on the following day to France however their unit destination is unknown whilst on the 28th, the last draft provided by the 24th Battalion and containing 17 trained and 107 untrained men were sent to France. Completing their training at an Infantry Base Depot (I.B.D.), these men were distributed amongst the 8th (Service) and 9th (Service) Battalions of the 14th (Light) Division, and the 17th (Service) and 18th (Service) Battalions of the 39th and 41st Divisions respectively. This was to prove to be the end of the 24th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps due to reorganisation of the Training Reserve. For Edwin and those who remaind, a new chapter in their military service was now about to unfold. (Source:- The King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle For 1916, Page 300. Published by Warren And Son, Limited, Printers And Publishers, High Street, Winchester, 1919). 
89th Training Reserve Battalion & Transfer To The R.F.A.
It was on the 1st of September 1916 that a major restructure of the Reserve Battalions of their respective Regiments came into being. As a consequence of this restructure, those who had not been drafted overseas from the 24th (Reserve) Battalion were now transferred to the 89th Training Reserve Battalion under Army Authority. With no regimental affiliation, Edwin and the soldiers of this battalion would have been issued with a new serial number, in this instance, a prefix of TR/5 followed by five digits. Under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel George Herbert Muller V.D., Muller was an experienced officer who had proved to be instrumental in the raising of the 1st Bradford "Pals" (16th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment). Appointed as Second-in-Command was Temporary Major Arthur Howard also a former officer with the Bradford "Pals". The duties of Adjutant were allotted to Temporary Lieutenant Harold Aidrian Walden of the West Yorkshire Regiment in addition to the appointment of Temporary Quarter-Master and Hon. Lieutenant William John Miller, another officer of the Regiment. With an officer cadre primarily drawn from the West Yorkshire's, the remaining officers as recorded in the Army List 1916 and corrected to the 31st of October of that year are as follows:-
Morris Clough (Temporary Captain, 1st September 1916)
George Christopher McKay Morant (Temporary Captain, 1st September 1916)
Temporary Second-Lieutenant Fred Goodall
Rennie Collins (Temporary Lieutenant, 1st September 1916
Gerald Alexander MacKay Morant (Temporary Lieutenant, 1st September 1916, brother of George)
Walter Thomas Phipps (Temporary Lieutenant, 1st September 1916, late Lieutenant, Territorial Force)
Robert Curry (Temporary Lieutenant, 1st September 1916)
Based at Blyth, almost immediately the battalion began to send drafts overseas, one man of the former 24th Battalion, K.R.R.C., James Robert Laws, being posted overseas on the 7th of October to join the Durham Light Infantry. In December, a large number of men from the 89th T.R. were transferred under Army Authority to the Royal Field Artillery. An analysis specific to men who had formerly served with the K.R.R.C. who were then absorbed into the Training Reserve provides numerous results, in the vast majority, men who were trained as Signallers and posted overseas in February 1917. For example Charles Edwin Ellerby, a native of York, who had previously served in both the 21st and 24th Battalions, King's Royal Rifle Corps and numbered R/20330. Transferred to the Royal Field Artillery on the 30th of December 1916 and subsequently training at Newcastle, he qualified as a 1st Class Signaller on the 25th of January 1917 and was posted overseas on the 15th of February of that year, numbered Gunner 186848. Clifford Bland, a native of Baildon, had also been posted from the 89th T.R.B. to the R.F.A. for training although his original origins lie with a transfer from the 20th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Numbered 186850, he too would be posted overseas in February 1917 with the rank of Gunner. Finally, Charles Pigg, a native of Tynemouth. Originally enlisting in the K.R.R.C. and numbered R/20560, Charles progressed through the 24th Battalion and the 89th T.R.B. before being transferred to the R.F.A. in December 1916, subsequently being posted overseas in February 1917 and numbered 186851.
There appears to be a distinctive pattern with men being passed through the 1"A" Reserve Brigade located at Newcastle. Upon posting overseas, the men would have been initially been processed at a Base Depot, in this instance possibly at Le Havre, before being allocated to their respective units. It is also of interest that the men in civilian life came from similar occupations, namely clerks in various capacities. It is impossible to state with any degree of accuracy Edwin's movements throughout his training with the R.F.A. or the actual date of his posting overseas. To this end, I will provide a brief summary of events leading up to the 119th Brigade in action in the Ypres Salient, actions that unfortunately culminated in Edwin's untimely death.               
119th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Originally raised as part of the divisional artillery destined for the 30th Division, Fourth New Army Division, in April 1915 this Army was broken up and as a consequence, the Fifth New Army was also reorganised. With the 30th Division renamed the 43rd Division and the Fifth New Army redesignated the Fourth New Army, the original 38th Division were then redesignated the 31st Division, the 43rd, the 38th (Welsh) Division. (Authors note: For a more detailed account of this restructure and the divisions, the reader may wish to refer to Chris Bakers excellent website, The Long Long Trail).
Posted overseas in November/December 1915, the 38th (Welsh) Division were joined by their artillery in late December due to the latters delay performing exercises on Salisbury Plain. The Divisional Artillery consisted at this juncture of the following brigades:-
119th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
120th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (Broken Up Due To Reorganisation Of Batteries In August 1916)
121st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
122nd (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
C.R.A. (Commander Royal Artillery) Brigadier-General William Arthur Murray Thompson
N.B. Not Included Are The Brigade Ammunition Column (Absorbed In May 1916 into Divisional Ammunition Column As Per Artillery Restructure) & Trench Mortar Batteries.
Western Front
The baptism of fire for the 38th (Welsh) Division was to take place on the Somme battlefield in July 1916. Synonymous with the attack and the eventual capture of Mametz Wood, the divison suffered heavy casualties in the taking of the wood, so much so, that the division was not to be involved in any major offensive until late 1917. Lessons were to be learned by both the infantry and the artillery during the subsequent battles that were fought across this and other sectors of the front. As 1917 dawned, these lessons in relation to divisional artillery supporting its own respective infantry division were the subject of reform and restructure as the artillery continued to evolve. Concentrated fire power from specific groups of artillery pieces of various calibres, tried and tested througout the later phases of the Somme offensive, would now be attached to specific armies. With various artillery brigades being restructured as Army Field Artillery Brigades such as the 119th Brigade, R.F.A. in 1917, this firepower was about to be tested in the Allied offensives already planned for the year of 1917.
Elverdinge (Elverdinghe): Canal Bank - Ypres Salient
It was in late August 1916 that the 38th (Welsh) Division, G.O.C. Brigadier-General Charles Guinand Blackader D.S.O. and the Divisional Artillery proceeded northwards to the Ypres Salient to join 8th Corps, Reserve Army, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Aymler Hunter-Weston.
From the 1st September - 22nd September, both the 119th & 121st Brigades, Royal Field Artillery, took up positions near Elverdinghe forming the Left Group of the Left Division, command of this group alternating between Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Joseph Paterson D.S.O., Officer Commanding 119th Brigade, R.F.A., and Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Hall Grant Pringle, Officer Commanding 121st Brigade R.F.A. (Authors note:- Both brigades now comprised of 3 six gun 18-pounder batteries and 1 four gun 4.5 inch Howitzer battery. This reorganisation taking effect from the 29th August).
Having previously registered their guns, the Left Group comprising of "A," "B" & "D" Batteries, 119th Brigade and "A," "B" & "D" Batteries of the 121st Brigade respectively, set about their roll of supporting and covering the 113th Infantry Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. Firing on numerous targets, wire cutting and supporting a number of raids in the weeks and months that followed, the organisation of this group remained relatively unchanged, this no doubt, adding to their prowess in support of the infantry. For example, on the night of the 12th October, one raid was conducted by the 13th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Ormus Campbell. The Colonel, impressed by the artillery support provided, expressed his gratitude in a letter contained in the War Diary of the 121st Brigade, R.F.A. (TNA W095/2546/3/1) dated 13th October 1916.
"The following letter has been received:-
C.O. Left Group R.F.A.
May I on behalf of the 13th Batt. R.W.Fus. thank you and all officers and men under your command for all the trouble taken for us in our last two raids.
All ranks speak in unstinted praise of both BARRAGES put up and I think that the confidence which the men of this Battalion have now got in Artillery fire will have a much more far reaching result than any success we may have obtained.
Will you convey to all ranks and let them know that we consider that any success we may have obtained is owing to the Artillery work and so we want the R.F.A. to share all honours with us.
(sd) R.O. Campbell. Lt. Col.
Commanding 13th Batt. R.W.Fus." 


The "Krupp Salient"
Extract Of Map St. Julien, Edition 3 E, Trenches Corrected To The 9th September, 1916.

As can be determined from the above map, east of the Canal Bank Sector north of Ypres, there was a pronounced salient in the German line, often referred to as the 'Krupp Salient.' Probing the line constantly, casualties sustained by the infantry either in large scale raids or venturing across No Man's Land to gather information steadily mounted however this offensive attitude towards the enemy did reap benefits. On the 13th October, wire cutting commenced by the artillery on his defences at the Caesar's Nose position, ref. C.14.a.0.7.5. by B/119 Enfilade Section as a precursor to a raid conducted by the 15th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Compton Cardew Norman. The raid was once again a success and further congratulatory messages were sent to the artillery, one message, sent by Colonel Norman himself expressing that "all guns landed their shells perfectly."
Further raids on the enemy's positions continued supported by the various groups of artillery assembled. Cooperation also commenced during November with 46th Squadron Royal Flying Corps that resulted in successful counter-battery work and registration, one enemy artillery battery being reported as being "shelled out."
Another successful raid was carried out on the 17th November by the 14th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, O.C. Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Vivian Robert Hodson on the High Command Redoubt (Mauser Ridge). C/121 Battery under the temporary command of Lieutenant William Alfred Collis Stone due to the absence of Captain Derek Charles Stephenson M.C. came in for particular praise, numerous congratulatory messages being received for the performance of the battery during the raid.
On the nights of the 14th/15th and 15th/16th December, the 38th (Welsh) Divisional Artillery were relieved by the artillery of the 39th Division. Proceeding to the Watou area, west of Poperinghe (Poperinge), the artillery then took over the Wagon Lines previously vacated by the 39th Division and were placed in Corps Reserve. Christmas was spent in this locality and despite the mud and primitive accomodation, sports, concerts and dinner were greatly enjoyed by all, a welcome respite no doubt from the daily privations of life in the front line.
January 1917:- Training And The Return To The Salient
After a period of training in a multitude of disciplines on the coast near Calais, the 119th Brigade, R.F.A., received orders to proceed to Herzeele near the France/Belgium border. Arriving at their destination on the 2nd, work commenced on billets and horse lines and also the procedures that would witness a fundamental reorganisation of the brigade as a whole. By the 14th, this restructure was completed, the brigade now being designated as the 119th Army Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, but still being retained for administration and tactical purposes by the 38th Division. "C" Battery comprising of howitzers was as a consequence split-up, one section being sent to join D/121 Brigade and another to D/122 Brigade respectively. This movement thereby completing them to six batteries of 4.5 inch howitzers. B/179 Brigade (39 Divisional Artillery) was now designated as C/119 Brigade, and Number 3 Section of the 38th Divisional Ammunition Column was now redesignated the 119th Army Brigade Ammunition Column. Thus, the 119th A.F.A. Brigade now comprised of 3, six gun 18-pounder batteries, 1 six gun 4.5 inch howitzer battery and a Brigade Ammunition Column (B.A.C.).
Gradually moving into the line, the brigade completed a move into the Left Group on the 19th of January, Colonel Patison being placed in command of the group which had established positions near Brielen. Cold weather consisting of snow and hard frosts were endured but visibility remained fair and enemy artillery activity minimal. Some batteries of the 119th Brigade, namely B/119 and D/119, were shelled at times but no casualties were sustained and any material damage caused was light. Intelligence was received on the 26th from the G.O.C. 38th Division that the enemy were likely to attack on the divisional front in the next forty-eight hours, points that were likely to be attacked being the frontage of the 39th Division on the right, or the junction with the Belgian on the left. As a consequence of this projected threat, three 18-pounder batteries of the 55th Divisional Artillery were assigned to the 38th D.A. should they be needed, two sections and one battery being assigned to the Left Group, one battery being posted to the Right Group respectively. Possibly as a precursor to offensive operations, it was on the 27th that the enemy conducted counter-battery fire, one gun of B/119 receiving a direct hit on its gun pit by a 15 c.m. howitzer shell, putting the gun out of action but miraculously no casualties were sustained. Later that evening, the Right Group reported that registration of their positions throughout the day possibly indicated a raid was about to take place opposite Turco Farm, all "precautions" being taken it was noted in the 38th C.R.A. War Diary. (WO95/2542/2).
It was at 1.30 a.m. early on the morning of the 30th of January that the enemy opened a heavy bombardment of the line opposite Turco Farm and on the front held by the Belgians near Het Sas, north of Boesinghe. The Right Group immediately began to fire on their established S.O.S. Lines to deal with the suspected threat in the Turco Farm Sector whilst the Left Group provided co-operation on the Belgian front, the Centre Group providing mutual support. No threat materialised on the right however at Het Sas a force of the enemy had broken into the line but were beaten off leaving some of their dead behind. At noon, Left Group Headquarters moved to Elverdinghe Chateau but as the month closed on the following day, the men manning their guns had to endure more snowfall and freezing temperatures, little activity being mounted by both sides apart from B/119 who fired some retaliatory rounds and some for calibration.         

Elverdinghe Chateau....Before The War Visited
Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community

The early days of the month were spent in a number of 'shoots' in conjunction with Eighth Corps Heavy Artillery, targets being fired on to the east of Boesinghe, Bois 14 and Bois 15 to the north-east of Boesinghe and the 'Krupp Salient'. It was whilst conducting these operations that two guns of C/119 were put out of action by a 15 c.m. howitzer on the morning of the 6th and with no casualties sustained, during the evening they were withdrawn and replaced, the damaged guns being sent to the Inspector of Ordnance Machinery. Still the enemy searched for targets and it was whilst they were performing counter-battery work during the course of the following day, B/77 was subjected to a maelstrom of shell fire with over 400 rounds being put into their position and that of the neigbouring C/119. Two guns of B/77 were subsequently put out of action and an ammunition dump was set on fire that detonated a number of rounds. As a consequence, three men of the latter were wounded but unfortunately, one man of C/119 was killed, Bombardier John Henry Sheaff, L/32140, a native of Clapham. A Postman in civilian life, John, who died aged 20 years old, now lies in Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Belgium.
Firing on numerous points in the enemy trench system, it was on the night of the 17th/18th of February that the 119th Brigade supported a raid by the 14th (Service) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers of the 113th Brigade, 38th Division. Promptly at 3.19 a.m., a Box Barrage was fired around the entry point into the German line near Essen Farm and a barrage placed on the front line as a party of 5 officers and 122 men moved out across No Man's Land. Three minutes later, the barrage lifted but by this time 7.7 c.m. enemy artillery began to bombard their own front line positions that as it later transpired had been evacuated. As the parties entered the line, the O.C. the raid, Temporary Captain John Crowle Ellis maintained liason with the artillery from the British Front Line but in the enemy's trenches the raiding parties came under increasing pressure from enfilade artillery fire and grenades. Though mortally wounded, Temporary Lieutenant Harold Sydney Ormsby ordered a withdrawal, he himself succumbing to his wounds some hours later, the parties re-entering the line after spending some fifteen minutes in the German line. Casualties had been heavy but vital lessons had been learned at a cost. During the raid, A/119 of the Centre Group fired 853 rounds, a testimony to the fire power available on this front of the sector by the various Groups employed.
In the days that followed the raid, a thaw set and mist manifested itself over the sector that reduced visibility. As a consequence, observation for both British and German artillery was impossible that resulted in very little artillery activity and a number of reasonably 'quiet' days. Early on the morning of the 25th however and between 3 a.m. - 3.15 a.m., the enemy opened a terrific and intense bombardment on the positions held by the 14th R.W.F., Ealing Trench, Lancashire Farm and Fusilier Trench coming in for specific attention. Following this barrage were a party of the enemy, estimated at a strength of about 50 men, who entered the line about 40 yards to the right of Ealing Trench, opposite Krupp Farm. Lance-Sergeant Thomas Jones, 20159, of "A" Company, a native of Llanddulas, was captured along with a Lewis gun from No. 6 Post. Surrounded as they were by a Box Barrage, this caused numerous casualties in both the 14th Battalion and that of the 19th (Service) Battalion, Welsh Regiment, (Divisional Pioneers), who had both "A" and "D" Companies working in the line on Fusilier Drain. Casualties to the 19th Battalion numbered 5 men killed and 16 wounded whilst the 14th Battalion suffered an estimated 11 men killed, this including three officers, Temporary Captain Percy Frederick Craddock, Temporary Lieutenant William John Williams and Temporary Second-Lieutenant Stanley Jones.
There was some criticism as to the time it took for the artillery to respond to the raid, the S.O.S. Signal (Green Very lights), being fired at about 3 a.m., the artillery not responding until seventeen minutes later. (Source:- 113th Brigade War Diary, WO95/2552/6). B/119 however fired 306 rounds that it was reasoned caught some of the raiders in the open.                 

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