Quiet, modest but very brave
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