I came across an old postcard from 1914 with a simple but kind message from a boy called 'Willie" to his mother in Yorkshire. I learned the boy was William Chappell, born in 1896 in Batley, near Dewsbury in Yorkshire, son of Arthur and Hannah Maria Chappell of Ossett, near Wakefield. Willie joined the Church Lads Brigade at the age of 13 in 1909, and by early September 1914, despite Willie's 18 years of age, he left his family and travelled first to London's King Cross, and then to Denham. Willie writes to his mother as soon as he arrives in Denham, on a postcard he bought at the Swan Hotel on the Village Road: "Dear Mother, Arrived London 2pm. Came straight here. Cant say where or what we shall do. This place Denham is near Webridge. Dont worry shall be all right. Dont know my address yet. Love from Willie." Shortly after the KRRC 16th Bn arrived in France in Nov 1915 William 'Willie' Chappell was wounded and died of his injuries aged 19. He was buried on 31 January 1916 in Bethune Town Cemetery, Pas de Calais, and a headstone marks his burial. KRRC Rifleman C/402 William Chappell was awarded the 1915 Star Medal and Victory and British medals for service.
I would be delighted to share this profile in full to any members interested, and would be particularly grateful to hear from those who could provide:
1. Diary or account of Battles in early January 1916 near Bethune in which Willie would have been wounded, then died;
2. A Picture of 'poor' Willie or his mother Hannah Maria nee Allsopp would be most welcomed. His brother was named Joe (b1893), cousin Bertram Allsopp (b1891), sister Susey Mary (b1905) ;
3. Any descendants of the Chappells interested to see the compilation of materials I have acquired.
I have been researching this poor lad for nearly three months now and have gained some information but I would very much like to breath life back into this brave but unremarkable Yorkshire boy who represented so many.
Thank you for reading.