Sgt Peter Lewis Chapman was the Captain of Wellington Z1110 of 101 Squadron which was shot down on the evening of 20th January 1942. Sgt Chapman died with Pilot Officer Colin Curtis and Sergeants Alan Herbert Hancox, Arthur Sidney Spackman, Francis Ernest Dunn and Herbert William Mantle. The aircraft and their bodies were never found.
Through the Aircrew Remembered website (see below and Connections), Julia Botsford came across this website and my book `Deadlines`. Julia is the niece of Sgt Chapman. She has been able to provide me with some more information – and photographs – of one of the men who died alongside Colin. Julia also confirmed that Peter was only 19 when he died – several records had his age as 20 or 21. Her brother was named Peter in his memory. (My middle name is Colin in memory of my father`s brother).
`My grandparents (and my mother – Peter`s twin sister) never knew what happened to the crew and of course are no longer alive to learn what has come to light. I have always been very fascinated but had not found anything out at all before now,` wrote Julia. `I have a lot of information about my uncle. He was one of four children, born in Newark in Nottinghamshire. He went to the Thomas Magnus Grammar School in Newark and on leaving he joined the post office. Although it was a reserved occupation, he joined the RAF as soon as he could (at 18). His father was Head Post Master in Ware, Hertfordshire during the war.
`I too have the original correspondence between my grandparents and the War Office – including the original telegram stating that he had failed to return from a mission, and subsequent material with details of the other crew members etc. In fact I understand my grandparents wrote to the families of all the crew in the hope that someone had heard something positive about them. Sadly that was not the case of course. I also have photographs and Peter’s flying log book. I so wish my Mum was still alive so I could talk to her about this as well. I too have grown up with a fascination for my missing uncle.`
My research and Peter`s log book confirms that Peter and Colin had not flown together before their final fatal mission. However Hancox, Spackman and Dunn were crewed with Peter on 2nd January, and again on the 4th January. Colin`s first operational mission was on 8th January to Cherbourg (page 93). Peter captained another Wellington on that raid with Hancox and Spackman in his crew.
Peter`s parents were John Lewis Chapman and Dora Kate (née Overell) Chapman. John was the deputy postmaster for Newark before moving to Ware. They later moved back to Newark when John Chapman retired in March 1953. He died in 1967. Dora`s family ran the Eagle Tavern in Newark and she stayed in Newark until she died in the 1970s.
Peter`s name can be found on Panel 80 at the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede and on the war memorial near St Mary`s Church in Ware in Hertfordshire (Chapter 27 Silent Contemplation).