William Henry Chapman

Date of birth: 15th June 1892
Place of birth: Basingstoke
Regiment / Division: Royal Navy
Vessel:  HM Submarine E37
Rank / Service No: Stoker 1st Class
Died: 3rd December 1916, aged 24 years
Commemorated: Portsmouth Naval Memorial


Before the War


William was born on 15th June 1892 to Henry James (1865 – 18/04/1949) and Sarah Emily Chapman (nee Legrove 1869). His parents were married in Basingstoke in 1890.

William’s siblings were:


Herbert James (30/06/1894 – 07/01/1977)

Herbert volunteered in 1914 and served as private in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. Throughout the war served aboard H.M.S. King George V, in the North sea and other waters. Herbert was still serving in 1920, aboard H.M.S. Benbow and held the 1914-1915 Star, the Victory and British War medals. He married Elsie Louise Curtis (1904 – 1990) in Southampton in 1926.


Norman George (26/08/1895 – 1970)

Norman married Edith Louise Targett (1897 – 1949) in Southampton in 1918.  In 1914 he volunteered for service in the Royal Engineers, and was drafted to the Western Front where he took part in the Battles of Loos, Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Messines. Norman also carried out special duties with the Camouflage Company. He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the Victory and British War medals. Norman and Edith emigrated to Australia and sailed, with their daughter Violet, aged 6 years, from London on 23rd August 1923 aboard S S Bendigo. The passenger list showed that at the time they were living at 51 John’s Road, Woolston, Southampton. In 1939 Norman enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force at Parramatta, New South Wales. He was appointed Lieutenant and he was posted as Camouflage Officer. In 1958 Norman married Isabella Durward (1890 – 1967), in Queensland Australia.


Cyril Frank (06/07/1907 – 1980)

Cyril married Vera Ellen Misselbrook (11/06/1909 – 2005) in Southampton in 1934.


In 1901 William and his family were living at 17 Southend Road, Basingstoke. His father was working as a railway signalman.

The 1911 census shows that the family had moved to 77 Radcliffe Road, Woolston, Southampton. William’s father was now employed as a railway porter.   His brother Herbert was employed as an engine cleaner and Norman was a greaser, both presumably on the railway. The Southampton Street Directory records that William’s father Henry lived at this address until at least 1925. 


Military History


William joined the Royal Navy for 12 year period, and, as a trimmer, served at H.M.S. Victory II from 15th December 1913 to 17th June 1914. Victory II was the Crystal Palace/Sydenham training depot for the Royal Naval Division.

From 18th June 1914 until his death William served aboard the following ships and at training depots:


H.M.S Crescent was an ex 1st Class Cruiser and flagship of the 10th Cruiser Squadron in the first few months of the First World War, on blockade duty north of Scotland.

H.M.S King Alfred was one of four Drake-class armoured cruisers. At the beginning of the war she was assigned to the 6th Cruiser Squadron of the main fleet of the Royal Navy.

H.M.S. Arrogant was a second class cruiser and in 1911 she was converted to a submarine depot ship. In 1914 Arrogant was tender to H.M.S. Dolphin with the 4th Submarine Flotilla and in 1915 became the Base Flagship at Dover.

H.M.S. Kangaroo was a B-class torpedo boat destroyer and for the duration of the war was based at Dover, as part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla.

H.M.S. Dolphin was a shore base for submarines and was the submarine school and depot based at Gosport.

H.M.S, Maidstone was commissioned at Portsmouth as a depot ship and served throughout the war with submarines at Harwich.


When he died William was serving, as Stoker 1st Class, aboard H.M.S. submarine E37. This was a British E class submarine, commissioned on 17th March 1916. She disappeared on 1st December 1916 and on 3rd December 1916 the entire crew were declared missing presumed dead.


William was awarded the 1914 – 1915 Star, Victory and British War medals.


He is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, panel reference 17. This memorial is located on Southsea Common and commemorates approximately 10,000 sailors from The First World War.


Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 28th October 2016


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