Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Gunner Edwin Chapman

Introduction
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
Shields,P
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
Acknowledgements
Dardanelles

186849
"C" Battery, 119th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Died 5th August 1917, age 24

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

Son of Henry and Annie Chapman, of "Highfield," Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire.
 
Edwin was born in 1893 at Hutton Rudby, his fathers occupation being recorded in the 1901 Census as a Farmer (Employer).
Little is known of Edwin's early life in this rural backwater however by the year of 1911, the Census records that at this juncture he had found employment as a Bank Clerk with the National & Provincial Bank.
 
Enlistment
 
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, Edwin was issued the serial number R/20380, this number allocated indicating an enlistment in about late February 1916.
 
On the 5th May 1916, the 21st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps proceeded overseas disembarking at Le Havre early on the following morning. Due to the lack of surviving service documents it is impossible to state if Edwin was amongst their number but due to his enlistment being just a few months previous, it would appear most unlikely. This now begs the question as to how and when Edwin Chapman found himself posted to the ranks of the Royal Field Artillery.
 
An analysis of numbers issued to both men of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and ultimately the Royal Field Artillery, results in one 'best case' scenario. Remaining at 'Home,' Edwin now found himself serving in one of the Depot Companies of the K.R.R.C. in the spring of 1916. In April of that year, the 24th (Reserve) Battalion of the Regiment was formed and during the following month this unit moved to Blyth on the north-east coast of England serving as part of the Tyneside Garrison before a move later in the month to Cambois just to the north. In September 1916, during a fundamental reorganisation of the Training Reserve, the 24th Battalion were absorbed by the constituent units of the 21st Brigade (Training Reserve) namely 4 battalions of the West and East Yorkshire Regiments and one battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment. One may surmise that at some point, Edwin was posted from the unit to commence training with the Royal Field Artillery. Allocated the serial number 186849, men in this number sequence appear to have a former affiliation to regiments from the north of England, i.e., the Northumberland Fusiliers, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) and the Lincolnshire Regiment.
 
Possibly posted to the 1st Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery located at Newcastle, Edwin's exact date of posting overseas is not known, however, an analysis of casualties recorded in this number sequence by Soldiers Died In The Great War (Naval & Military Press) place his posting to the Western Front before the month of June 1917.
 
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, it is in the Ypres Salient that we at first take up their story.
 
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.'
StJulienEdition3E.jpg
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, it was in mid January that the 38th Divisional Artillery returned to the Elverdinghe Sector. Upon relief of the Centre Group (formerly the Left Group) comprising of the 39th Divisional Artillery at Brielen and Elverdinghe, Headquarters were established at the Chateau des Trois Tours, Brielen, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Pringle D.S.O.