January 4, 1916 – Paralysed soldier dies on Christmas Day

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Private Thomas Chapman

A desperately sad story dominates the Market Harborough Advertiser’s first edition of 1916 with news that a town soldier wounded in action had died on Christmas Day.

Private Thomas Chapman of 10 Orchard Street had been paralysed since December 3 when he was shot in the spine.

The story is made even more poignant as the Advertiser describes how Private Chapman’s wife and 18-year-old son had been able to visit him in a French hospital.

“They found him paralysed but very cheerful and comfortable but in no pain,” says the story. “However, he gradually grew weaker and died on December 25 and was buried in France.”

The editor’s report continues: “The greatest sympathy will be felt for Mrs Chapman and her four children in their loss of so gallant a husband and father who died for his King and country.”

It is not the only pain suffered by Mrs Chapman. “Her brother, who came over with the first Canadian Contingent, being killed in action in May, and while in France she was able to visit his last resting place.”

Private Chapman was ‘well known and greatly respected in the town and district’, and was for over 20 years employed as a corset presser at Messrs R and W H Symington and Co’s factory. He was also a member of the town’s Society of Anglers and was remembered at a meeting of the club held in the Cherry tree Hotel.

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The Advertiser also uses the first edition of the year to honour all those soldiers who had died during 1915. A total of 35 men are listed under a headline which reads ‘Our Honoured Dead of 1915 – Lest we Forget’.

The story says: “With the passing of the Old Year it is fitting that we should pay a tribute to the memory of those who 12 months ago were with us, but who now lie in soldiers’ graves awaiting the last Roll Call.

“That the ruthless toll has been heavy the following list of our brave fallen heroes shows.

“We reverence with pride, for they have given their lives for their King and country and for us, and believing, as we do, in the righteousness of our cause, we feel their sacrifice will not be in vain.”

  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.

 

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