Private Philip Chapman (Hampshire Regiment)
A letter received from his parents informs us of the very sad news of Philip’s death.
He was wounded in Gallipoli in an attack made on 21-24th August. The attack was nearly over and he had been ordered with another man to bring up a munitions box. They were pausing for a moment to rest when a shell came over a rise and exploded near them, shattering Philip’s right fore-arm and giving him a great wound in the back, where the muscle was exposed and lacerated. The wounds were dressed at once, as the advance was over and the arm was amputated just below the elbow.
He was taken to Malta, which he reached on Sunday night, August 29th and was admitted to the care of his godfather, Mr Charters Symonds, of Guy’s Hospital, who is one of the surgeons in charge of the hospitals there.
On September 5th Mr Symonds wrote to Philip’s parents:-
“All our efforts failed, and the dear boy passed away last night at 10 o’clock…
Yesterday it was obvious that he could not live long and I was with him in the morning and again in the afternoon and later on till he died. He asked for me and seemed so relieved when I was near. Then I left a little before six to operate on an urgent case some distance away, and got back about 8.45.
He welcomed me again and asked if he would ‘pull through’ and again ‘would he be here tomorrow?’
I said a few words, and later ‘Goodbye,’ and he, as bravely as anyone could do, replied ‘Goodbye.’
I said, ‘You must give me a kiss that I may give it to your mother,’ and he did so.
I said we should meet again, and he said ‘Yes, we shall,’ and then he fell on a little sleep.
Waking, perhaps from the oxygen we were giving to relieve his breathing, he said, ‘I was quite prepared to die, and does not this bring it all over again?’
When I said it was to ease is breathing, he said ‘All right’ in that quiet, satisfied and resigned way that I had so much learned to appreciate.
I gave a little morphia, which relieved his back pains. Never did he wander for a moment or utter one unclear word; he was fully conscious and knew his end was near.
Then most wonderful of all, he fixed his eyes looking outward, as he lay on his side and said slowly and with halting breath – each word separated, and some syllables also – ‘This is the most be-a-utiful moment of my life… Oh! What a su-p-erb mo-ment.’
Then he smiled so sweetly and with so satisfied an expression that we knew he had seen a vision…
I shall ever be grateful to a kind Providence who guided our wounded boy to my care, and that I was able to help him in his last moments.”
We remember Philip at the OPS as a quiet, serious, affectionate boy with a devotion to music; he was always to be found at the piano in his free time. On leaving Clifton College, he studied music with the aim of becoming a College organist.
He tried to join the ‘Artists’ when the war broke out. He was rejected on account of his short sight, but he got glasses and became an efficient marksman. He then joined the 8th Battalion Hampshire Regiment.
One thought on “September 8th 1915”
A desperately sad and moving story.