Albert Henry Chapman was born in Tadley on 15 August 1889.
His parents were Henry and Elizabeth ‘Lydia’ or ‘Libia’ Chapman (née Saunders). Henry was a ‘General Labourer’. Elizabeth was previously married to George Robinson with whom she had one son, William T Robinson, Albert’s half-brother.
Albert was the eldest of nine children born to Elizabeth and Henry: Albert Henry, Susan, Alice and Frederick John (twins), Thomas George, Elsie, Dorothy May, Edith Maud, Agnes Eileen ‘Lena’.
In the 1901 Tadley Census Albert was 11 years old and living at Mount Pleasant with his parents and four of his siblings. In the 1911 Tadley Census, aged 21 years old, his address was still given as Mount Pleasant, Tadley. His occupation was listed as ‘General Labourer’.
Albert was unmarried.
Albert had enlisted in Basingstoke by 12 September 1914. He served as a private (service number 10340) in the 5th Battalion of the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment).
The 5th Battalion was the first of the new Royal Berkshire Battalions to be formed after Kitchener’s appeal for 100,000 volunteers at the start of the war. Lieutenant Colonel Foley was given the task of forming the new unit. After a few days at Brock Barracks in Reading the new recruits were moved to Shorncliffe Army Camp near Cheriton in Kent on 15 August 1914 where they immediately began training. They transferred to Folkestone on 2 January 1915 and on 23 February to Aldershot to join the rest of their new division. They were now part of the 35th Brigade, 12th Division which moved to France on Sunday 30 May.
The battalion’s initial training was at Armentières before moving to Ploegsteert on 14 June to learn trench warfare from a regular battalion. Throughout the summer of 1915 they alternated between trench duty and periods in reserve and for most men it was all a great game.
At the beginning of the Battle of Loos (25 September – 8 October) the battalion was were still in Ploegsteert. It arrived in the support trenches at Loos on 1 October and was put to work on the repair and reinforcement of captured trenches in the sector known as the ‘quarries’. The weather was very wet and no work could be done by day above the parapet as they were in full view of the Germans. For the next 12 days the battalion was shelled and shot at all day and suffered several casualties. According to the Regimental War Diary, Albert was killed in the morning/early afternoon of 5 October, during shell-fire on the front line.
Albert was killed in action on the Western Front on Tuesday 5 October 1915, aged 26.
He is commemorated on Loos Memorial [Panel 93 to 95], Loos-en-Gohelle, Nord,
He is also remembered on Tadley War Memorial and the Tadley United Reformed Church Roll of Honour.
Besides Albert, amongst those remembered on Tadley War Memorial is Albert Appleton who also served in the 5th Battalion of the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment).
Albert was awarded the Victory medal, the British War medal and 1914-15 Star. These would have been sent to his family.