Quiet, mod­est but very brave

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - NEWS -

most about the story is the re­port of hero­ism on the part of young Ernest.

While, of course, it was amaz­ing that a child so young could have res­cued his baby sis­ter from the arms of his dead mother, it is also a deeply sad story. Peo­ple forget the civil­ian vic­tims of the First World War.

When we think of the Great

War, we re­mem­ber trench war­fare and in­fa­mous deadly bat­tles. Ob­vi­ously, my great­grand­fa­ther was a vic­tim of that, along with thou­sands of other men.

But in Hack­ney in London, where my grand­mother’s house was bombed, there were hun­dreds of ca­su­al­ties too.

The Sec­ond World

War is known for the Blitz, but some­times we forget there were air raids dur­ing the First World War too.

We have al­ways talked about this story in my fam­ily. Old Ernest’s sis­ter, whom we know as Aun­tie, raised the five or­phans as her own, in­clud­ing my nan, Ernest, their brother Wal­ter and their two sis­ters Edie and Ma­bel. I have al­ways had this great sense of fam­ily through­out my life and Aun­tie was a for­mi­da­ble woman to take on this ready-made fam­ily and make it her own.

She ba­si­cally gave up her life to raise the chil­dren and was a huge part of our lives un­til her death in 1977. While a lot of the com­mem­o­ra­tions of the war are, rightly, about all the sol­diers who lost their lives, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the civil­ians.

My gran lost both her par­ents, grow­ing up never know­ing her mum or dad. It is ter­ri­bly sad. But she was such a lovely woman – she of course never re­mem­bered the in­ci­dent be­cause of how young she was.

My nan mar­ried my grandad Ge­orge Dale, known as Al­bert, and they lived in Ley­ton, East London, and my nan worked in a fac­tory for most of her life

He died in 1988, two years be­fore Babs’ death in 1990. They had two chil­dren, in­clud­ing my dad John. He’s just turned 72.

I can’t ex­plain the level of pride and priv­i­lege I feel in telling their story. It’s a real “wow” feel­ing. And the Daily Mir­ror has al­ways oc­cu­pied a spe­cial place in our fam­ily lore.

HERO Si­mon’s great-grandad Ernest fought Chris Costi­gan, 75, of Chor­ley, Lancs, was de­lighted to dis­cover a fam­ily mem­ber who was dec­o­rated three times for brav­ery. Christine Rooney, 56, of Old­ham, re­calls her very mod­est grandad, James Her­bert Chap­man, who was awarded the Mil­i­tary Medal.I never met Grandad Jimmy, he died a few months be­fore I was born. As a lit­tle girl I re­mem­ber hear­ing sto­ries about him. Grandma kept his medals in a very old tin in a drawer. By all ac­counts he was a quiet, mod­est man. I know he was very proud of his medals.Pte Chap­man grew up on Hen­shaw Street in Old­ham. He was in so many bat­tles – he got the Star Medal in Gal­lipoli and was in the Somme, Pass­chen­daele and Ypres. It’s amaz­ing he sur­vived.He won the Mil­i­tary Medal for “con­spic­u­ous brav­ery and en­durance”. On Oc­to­ber20, 1918, in Bri­as­tre he was No1 on a Lewis gun team that was shot at. The ci­ta­tion says: “He knocked out the [Ger­man] gun, killing the crew. Wounded, he con­tin­ued 1,500 yards to the ob­jec­tive where he bay­o­neted sev­eral of the en­emy.”He put his life on the line de­spite hav­ing a young son,Ge­orge, and wife, Alice, he adored. DEC­O­RATED Con­rad Lead­beater FIGHT­ING SPIRIT Pte Chap­man, his Mil­i­tary Medal and ci­ta­tion of his brav­ery

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