War diary of Lieutenant Arthur Chaplin’s commanding officer.
May 3rd, 1917.
The Battle for Vimy Ridge.
“They were in hand to hand fighting most of the day, and the enemy’s casualties were very heavy. Our batteries were heavily bombarded all day, especially the 4th brigade. Every sized shell was used against our batteries. Other groups fared badly, but we got the worst of the shelling. Gas shells were extensively used by the enemy. Our batteries were under direct observation from the enemy from Merricourt and airplanes. New positions are being selected behind Willerval.
Killed in action Lieut Arthur Chaplin,….. The night was fairly quiet.”
Neuville St Vaast is a village 6.5 km north of Arras. La Targette British Cemetery, formerly known as Aux Rietz Cemetery, was begun at the end of April 1917. and was used by field ambulances and fighting units until September 1918.
Nearly a third of the graves have an Artillery connection. In March-April 1917, the Artillery of the 2nd Canadian and 5th Divisions and certain heavy artillery units had their headquarters in a deep cave at Aux Rietz.
Ninety years have passed, and now in 2007 the battle for Vimy Ridge is being remembered, and celebrated by the dedication of a newly restored Canadian National Vimy Memorial. There had been several attempts to capture the ridge, a commanding feature, but it was, finally, the Canadians who gained the victory.
It is said that the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge was the key turning point in shaping Canada as a nation. Four Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for their part in capturing Vimy Ridge. More than 57,000 Canadians died on the Somme.
Lieutenant Arthur Chaplin was buried in France, but there is also a memorial to him in St Helen’s Churchyard, on the family grave, alongside a memorial to his younger brother, Marmaduke, who was killed in the second battle for Ypres, in 1915,at the age of twenty-three.
The Chaplin family was the first in Etwall to lose two sons in the Great War, but later two other families suffered the same devastating loss, the Adams family and the Gregson family.
THE CHAPLIN FAMILY
ETWALL BURNASTON AND BEARWARDCOTE CENSUS DATA
1891 Census – The Gables
Marmaduke K Chaplin, 40, Timber Merchant
Fanny Chaplin, wife, 37
Henry S Chaplin, son, 10
Arthur Chaplin, son, 8
1901 Census – The Vicarage
Frances Chaplin, widow, 47, Timber Merchant
Henry S Chaplin, 20, Manager Timber Merchant
Arthur Chaplin, 18, Clerk, Timber Merchant
Katherine Chaplin, 9
Humphrey Marmaduke, 9
Felice Chappois, 29, Swiss Governess
Marmaduke Kaye Chaplin died in 1900, and was buried in St Helen’s on the 4th May, 1900
Frances Chaplin, his widow, died two years later, and was buried in St Helen’s Churchyard on the 24th October , 1902, aged 49.
Young Marmaduke and his twin sister, Katherine, were orphaned at the age of ten.