Eric Burton Elliott CHAPMAN (1890-1917)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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Menin Gate

33rd BATTALION 35th BATTALION A.I.F.

Second Lieutenant: 28 Eric Burton Elliott CHAPMAN.


Born: 1890. Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:21028/1890.

Died: 7th June 1917. Killed in Action Belgium.


Father: Edgar Chenhalls Scott Chapman.

Mother: Emily Francis Chapman. nee: Elliott.


INFORMATION

Eric Burton Elliott Chapman enlisted with the AIF on the on the 23rd August at Warrick Farm, N.S.W. with the rank of Private. Eric was promoted to Acting Sergeant at Casula on the 29th of December 1915 and posted to the 33rd Battalion AIF in January 1916 and was an original member of the Battalion. Eric went into camp at the Armidale Race Course with the New England Battalion. The Battalion was entrained to Sydney and embarked onboard HMAT A74 "Marathon" on the 4th May 1916 and disembarked at Devonport England on the 9th of July. The Battalion was entrained to Larkhill and was marched into the Durrington Army Camp. Eric was admitted to hospital at Larkhill on his arrival and spent the next 3 week in isolation.

Upon his discharge on the 30th of July he was Taken on in Strength with the 9th Training Battalion at Larkhill until the 13th of August when he was Taken on in Strength with the 33rd Battalion and marched out to the Tidworth School of Instruction on the 9th September 1916.

Tidworth Barracks

Eric entrained from Amesbury Station on the 21st of November 1916 for Southampton and emmbarked for France with Battalion ariving at La Harve. The Battalion went into billets for the night and were marched out to the lines where Eric took over his Platoon.

9th April 1917.

On the 9th the 33rd once again took over the fron line, again at L'Epinette. They moved to Senninghem on the 12th where they were headquartered until the 25th. Then once again they were on the march, via Renescure and Pradelle to Armentieres, Where, on the 28th they gained a well earned rest. On the 21st May the men of the 33rd were moved to Le Touquet to Ploegsteert Wood for the usual working parties, trench maintenance being high on the agenda for the comming offensive. Three days later they were at St Vyes for more of the same, releived on the 26th May by the 34th Battalion and moved back to billets at Nippe.

(Never a Backward Step; Edwards 1996)

7th June 1917.

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General: Alexander JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

Messines Dressing Station

FIELD DRESSING STATION, MESSINES 7th June 1917.

This Officer was attached to my Company on 7.6.17. He was last seen a few minutes before Zero Hour. (3.10.am) on the morning of 7th June. At Zero Hour I believe he left the trenches with his platoon to move forward but no further news of him was available until his body was found many hours later somewhere in front of Messines - some thousands of yards to the left of where he should have been. It would appear to me that he had been wounded and dased immediately after leaving the assembly trenches and had wandered away to his flank where he was later killed. As far as I rembember the body was brought back and buried near PROWSE POINT (Ploegsteert) The Chaplain of the Battalion at the time Chaplain 3rd Class: John Edward Norman OSBORN. (Anglican) whom I last heard of at No:2 Command Depot, Weymouth could doughtless give further information.

Messines War Memorial

MESSINES WAR MEMORIAL, 35th Battalion

Corporal: 2600 George Smith HOLLIDAY. 35th Battalion at the MESSINES MEMORIAL erected near Ash Crater to the members of the 35th Battalion, who fell in the battle of Messines on the 7th June 1917. (Australain War Memorial)

Eric is remembered with honour and is commemerated in perpetuity by the Commonweath War Graves Commission at the MENIN GATE MEMORIAL, Ypres.

Menin Gate

MENIN GATE WAR MEMORIAL

Family Information

Eric was a single 25 year old Surveyor from Blaney, N.S.W. upon enlistment. His parents Edgar and Emily Chapman were married in 1882 at Campeltown, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:3870/1882. Eric Burton Elliott Chapman born 1890 Marrickville, N.S.W. Birth Cert:21028/1890. and died 7th June 1917, Messines, Belgium during World War 1. Edward L E Chapmand born 1891 at Marrickville, N.S.W. Birth Cert:21501/1891.

Military Records

World War 1 Records

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Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 25/05/2014-13/03/2016.

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