Chapman, John Gordon

John Gordon Chapman was born on the 25th November 1919, according to his niece Fiona, whose father, Roy, was John Gordon’s brother, and whose family Tree I found on Ancestry.

He was the son of Robert Francis Chapman, who married Catherine Boswell , both age 21 at St. James’s Church, Walton-on-the-Hill, Liverpool on the 3rd August 1913.    Robert was a bachelor and a Carter, his address was 27, Penrith Street and his father John Smith Chapman was a Marine Fireman, Catherine was a spinster and it was a story of boy/girl-next-door as her address was 25, Penrith Street and her father William Boswell was also a Carter.  The Witnesses were John Alexander Chapman & Mary Ann Shaw.

Robert Francis Chapman spent some time in the Royal Navy, he had previously been a Fisherman according to the Record below.  He joined on the 1st September 1910- for 5 & 7 years.   His description was :-Height – 5 feet 9 inches, chest – 36 and ½ inches, Hair Brown – Eyes – Blue and Fair complexion.   He had a scar over left eye.   He served through WW1 till the 19th March 1919 and then joined the R.F.R. on the 20th March 1919 till April 1921.   He served as ‘Stoker 2nd Class’ when he joined but ended his career as ‘Stoker 1st Class.’

As there were no censuses published after the 1911 it is hard to find any information about the families but the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939, was able to shed a little light on the family at that time.  They were living at 4 Northcote Street, Liverpool and Catherine Chapman’s date of birth is give as the 7th June 1892 and this tells us that she is widowed and an Office Cleaner.     John G. Chapman, born 25th November 1919 he was a Clerk in the Drawing Stores in an Aircraft Factory.    There is a closed record but to find out you have to be a family member and to have to produce documents to have the record opened.   The other person was Margaret L. Chapman, Gordon’s sister, whose date of birth was the 21st  May 1922, she was single and a “Laundry Worker On Machine.”

I know of another sister, Annie Chapman, who married Henry George in the September quarter of 1939 in Liverpool (Liverpool N.  Vol. 8b  Page 1013).   Annie was to suffer the loss of Henry on the 12th November 1942 when Henry’s ship H.M.S. Tynwald was sunk off Algeria.   Henry is remembered on the Sandycroft WW2 War Memorial in St. Francis’s Church.   Please click on the link to read his story.

Many thanks for the help Fiona and her family have given me with photographs etc., as I was at a loss about his early life.  I couldn’t find a connection to Flintshire, but below is Fiona’s recollection of the connection to Flintshire. 

 “When war was declared on 3rd September 1939 Catherine who was a widow following the death of her husband Robert Francis in 1931, was living in 4, Northcote Street in Liverpool with Margaret Lily and Gordon.   Her two youngest children Bessie and Roy (Robert Francis) had been evacuated to Llanrug in North Wales.   Anne was married and living elsewhere.  Catherine’s sister Jean was living in Sandycroft.   As the war progressed Catherine went to Llanrug a few weeks later to bring Roy and Bessie back to Liverpool.  

During the blitz their street was heavily bombed losing close friends and neighbours.  Soon afterwards they moved to Sandycroft to live with Jean  Catherine’s sister.  They then moved into a house on Phoenix Street where the Chinese is now, and they had chickens in the front room!!!  Roy attended Queensferry CP, Bessie started work, Margaret Lily and Gordon moved with them also.   Anne remained in Liverpool until the death of her husband in 1942 who was killed in action.  She then joined the rest of her family in Sandycroft.    Gordon was called up and went to Ashby de la Zouch then joined the Cameron Highlanders.   He trained in the Outer Hebrides and met his future wife Williamina in Broughton Ferry outside Dundee in 1942 and they married in 1943.” 

Fiona also tells us that John Gordon was to marry Williamina Anderson on June 3, 1943, this is mentioned in the Newspaper cutting in the Liverpool Echo on the 29th July 1944:-

Private John  Gordon Chapman son of Mrs. F.J. CHAPMAN, of 116 Phoenix Street, Sandycroft, Chester )late of 4, Northcote Street, Breck Road, Everton, Liverpool), has been killed in action.   An old boy of Heyworth Street School, he was married, and his wife resides at 4, Temple Lane, Dundee. 

History Information from the CWGC citation:-  The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. Those buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery died for the most part in the fluctuating battles from mid June to the end of July 1944, in the region between Tilly-sur-Seulles and Caen. The cemetery contains 1,627 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 49 of them unidentified. There are also 555 German burials. The cemetery was designed by Philip Hepworth.

John Gordon was originally buried, probably on the day he died, at Colleville 10and ½ m SE of Bayeux according to the CWGC Graves Concentration Forms(2) (see below), then reburied on the 8th August 1945 at St. Manvieu British Cemetery. (St. ManvieuWar  Cemetery, Cheux.)

Seaforth Highlanders –  Second World War

The 7th Battalion was a 2nd Line TA unit that was originally serving with the 26th Infantry Brigade, part of the 9th (Highland) Infantry Division, and later transferred to the 46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade in the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division and deployed to France in June 1944: it saw action in Operation Epsom and then served in North-West Europe.[26]

Operation Epsom

Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British Second World War offensive that took place between 26 and 30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, an important Allied objective, in the early stages of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of north-west Europe.

Preceded by Operation Martlet to secure the right flank of the advance, Operation Epsom began early on 26 June, with units of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division advancing behind a rolling artillery barrage. Air cover was sporadic for much of the operation, because poor weather in England forced the last-minute cancellation of bomber support. Accompanied by the tanks of the 31st Tank Brigade, the 15th (Scottish) Division made steady progress and by the end of the first day had overrun much of the German outpost line, although some difficulties remained in securing the flanks. In mutually costly fighting over the following two days, a foothold was secured across the River Odon and efforts were made to expand this, by capturing strategic points around the salient and moving up the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division. In response to powerful German counter-attacks, by 30 June some of the British forces across the river were withdrawn, bringing the operation to a close.

Many casualties were suffered by both sides but unlike General Bernard Montgomery, the Allied commander in Normandy, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel was unable to withdraw units into reserve after the battle, as they were needed to hold the front line. The British retained the initiative, attacked several more times over the following two weeks and captured Caen in Operation Charnwood in mid-July. Interpretations of the intention and conduct of Operation Epsom differ widely but there is general agreement concerning its effect on the balance of forces in Normandy. The Germans contained the offensive but only by committing all their strength, including two panzer divisions newly arrived in Normandy, which had been intended for an offensive against British and American positions around Bayeux.

The Casualty List 1513 states that John Gordon was Killed in Action on the 28th June 1944 as part of the Expeditionary Forces in North West Europe.

Again, many thanks for the help Fiona and her father, Roy, have given me to help tell John Gordon’s story so he won’t be forgotten.

Property Returned to Willamina Chapman 26th October 1944 – Wallet, 11 Photos, 9d, spectacles, 3 letters, identity disc (red), stamps value 1/0 1/2 d, 11 greeting cards.

He was obviously loved and missed as he is also remembered on the Sandycroft Roll of Honour which is in St. Francis’s Church.

Fiona sent me a transcription from The Dundee Evening Telegraph, 2nd August, 1944.  Inserted by Williamina.

A cheery smile, a heart of gold.

The dearest husband the world could hold.

‘Tis sad but true we wonder why.

The best are always the first to die.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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