Benjamin Barnett Chapman

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Cousins Alf and Ben Chapman. Image courtesy Kerrie Nicholls.

CHAPMAN, Benjamin Barnett

Service no: 1006 [1]

Place of birth: Spring Hill, 21 May 1898

Address: Islington Farm, Spring Hill

Occupation: Labourer

Next of kin: George Denis Chapman (brother), Post Office, Spring Hill, via Orange

Date of enlistment: 8 February 1915

Place of enlistment: Liverpool

Age at enlistment: 16

Fate: Embarked HMAT A66 Uganda, Sydney, 15 June 1915. Taken on strength 7th Light Horse Regiment, Gallipoli, 2 October 1915. Admitted to 3rd Australian Hospital, Lemnos, with dysentery, 15 November 1915. Hospitalised 1 July 1916. Rejoined unit 8 July 1916. Transferred to 2nd Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron, Bir et Maler, 23 July 1916. Taken to 2nd Light Horse field hospital, Hill 70, 26 October 1916. Admitted to 2nd Stationary Hospital Egypt with malaria 28 October 1916. Returned to duty 8 November 1916. Taken on strength 2nd Light Horse training regiment, Moascar, 16 December 1916. Hospitalised 9 August 1918. Embarked HMAT Madras, Kantara, for return to Australia 28 June 1919. Returned to Australia 3 August 1919.

Date of death: 8 October 1921, aged 23

Buried: Spring Hill Cemetery

Benjamin Barnett Chapman was just 16 years old when he volunteered to serve in the First World War. Ben, his brother, George Denis Chapman, and cousin Alfred Chapman enlisted together in Liverpool on 8 February 1915.

Ben was born in Spring Hill on 21 May 1898. His father was George Barnett Chapman; his mother Mary Jane nee Capps. Ben was educated at Spring Hill Public School and later worked as a labourer.

Following enlistment the intrepid trio were assigned to 7th Light Horse Regiment, 6th Reinforcements. Ben and Alf embarked together for overseas service on 15 June 1915 and were sent to Gallipoli.

On 15 November Ben was admitted to the 3rd Australian Hospital in Lemnos, suffering from dysentery. In July 1916 he was transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron at Bir et Maler in Egypt. In October he was again hospitalised, this time with malaria. Ben returned to duty on 8 November 1916.

Ben served for over four and a half years; he returned to Australia in August 1919. Benjamin’s brother George returned to Australia in March 1919; his cousin Alf was killed in action in Palestine in November 1917.

Two years after his return from the war Benjamin was admitted to Dudley Private Hospital with adenoid and ear trouble. His condition appeared to improve during the four weeks he spent in hospital so he was discharged, whereupon his condition suddenly deteriorated. Benjamin died on 8 October 1921, the cause of death being acute septic meningitis.

The Leader of 12 October 1921 described Benjamin’s funeral in detail, claiming it to be “one of the largest ever seen in Spring Hill”. A large body of returned men preceded the hearse and formed a guard at the entrance to the cemetery. Ben’s coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and borne to the graveside by Stanley Evan Bryant, Jack Hilton West, Joseph Victor Bennett and Raymond Westley Moad. The newspaper concluded:

Ben will be severely missed by many whom he benefited in his generous way; he was most popular with all classes, and his cheery smile and pleasant manner will not soon be forgotten.

Benjamin Barnett Chapman is commemorated on the Spring Hill Public School Honour Roll, the Spring Hill Church Roll of Honor and the Spring Hill Temperance Hall Honor Roll. His headstone in Spring Hill Cemetery also commemorates his cousin, Alfred Chapman, and bears the inscription "Mates in Peace and War".

Letter from Ben to his sister Winnie, April 1917: The Front Line in Sinai – British Tanks Arrive [2]

Benjamin Chapman’s obituary, Leader, 12 October 1921, p. 1 [3]

Benjamin Chapman’s headstone at Spring Hill Cemetery commemorating Alfred Chapman: Mates in Peace and War. Image courtesy Alex Rezko.
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