Chapman – Corporal Edward Thomas

13 January 1920 – 3February 2002

Edward was born in Pontlottyn, Glamorgan and worked as a miner at Ogilvie Colliery at Deri. He enlisted in the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment in 1940 and saw action in Normandy, the Low Countries and North West Germany.

On 2nd April 1945 in Dortmund-Ems Canal, Germany, his section was advancing in single file along a narrow track, when the enemy opened fire with machine guns at short range, inflicting heavy casualties. Ordering his section to take cover, Chapman seized the Bren gun and, firing from the hip, rushed forward, mowing down the enemy at point-blank range, forcing them to retire in disorder. The order to retire did not reach the section, which was left isolated in its forward position. The Germans closed in, delivering bayonet charges under cover of machine-gun fire. Again, Chapman’s Bren gun halted the attack. Running short of ammunition, he shouted for more bandoliers, covering those bringing them up by lying on his back and firing the Bren, weighing some 231bs, over his shoulder. The Germans used grenades to dislodge him but, with a reloaded magazine, he drove them back. During the company’s withdrawal, its commander, severely wounded, had been left lying a short distance from Chapman, who then went out alone under fierce fire and carried the officer some 50 yards to comparative safety. But a sniper hit Mountford again, killing him and wounding Chapman in the hip. Refusing evacuation, Chapman returned to his company until the position was restored two hours later, displaying what the official citation described as “outstanding gallantry and superb courage”. His “magnificent bravery played a very large part in the capture of this vital ridge, and in the successful development of subsequent operations” 

After the war Edward worked in engineering, and then for the Great Western Railway where he was employed in track maintenance. Later he worked as a nylon spinner at Pontypool for 25 years until his retirement in 1982. He enlisted in the Territorial Army in 1948 where he reached the rank of Company Sergeant Major. Edward was a keen fly fisherman and became an expert breeder of Welsh mountain ponies.

His medal is held at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum London.

Filed under: WW2