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James Chappell

Sergeant James Chappell, 2476, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1st/4th Battalion

James Chappell was born in Crofton, Wakefield on the 20th October 1887, the eldest son of brewer's labourer William Chappell (born 1865) and his wife Agnes née Moverley (born 1863) who married in the June quarter of 1887 in Wakefield. There were nine children in total, but three were to die in infancy. James Chappell's younger brothers William Moverley Chappell (born 1894) and Clifford Chappell (born 1896) both served in the Army during WW1 and both survived.

James Chappell worked as a miner and was living at 35, William Street, Belle Vue, Wakefield when he married Ossett girl Maria Nash (born 1887) on Christmas Day 1913 at Christ Church, South Ossett. The couple lived at 14 King Street, Ossett close to Maria's parents and siblings who lived at 7, Hilda Street, Ossett.

Marriage Certificate

Record card

Above: The marriage certificate for James Chappell and Maria Nash and the record of the death of James Chappell on the 5th July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. His place of residence is shown as 14, King Street, Ossett.

The 1/4th Battalion of KOYLI was formed in August 1914 at Wakefield and became a part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. James Chappell was one of the 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I. Territorial Army soldiers who were mobilised immediately from their training camp at Whitby on August 4th 1914 at the outbreak of WW1. After further training in Lincolnshire they embarked overseas via Southampton and Folkestone on April 12th 1915. They disembarked at Le Havre on the 13th April 1915 before being transported by rail to Berguette and Merville, then billeted near Le Doulieu on the northern western border of France with Belgium. On the 15th May 1915 the formation became 148th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.

1st/4th KOYLI soldiers at their training camp in Whitby

Above: 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I. soldiers at their camp in Whitby, August 1914. Could Sergeant James Chappell be the soldier kneeling on the front left? Photo courtesy of Paul Laycock and Ossett Through The Ages Facebook group.

The first casualties occurred on May 22/23rd 1915 near Touquet on the Ypres-Boesinghe Line during the construction of a new trench close to enemy occupied ruined buildings. Six men were killed and another ten were wounded by German rifle and machine gun fire. Many more men from 1st/4th K.O.Y.L I. were killed and wounded in the trenches from heavy shelling over the next week. The war had finally arrived for Sergeant James Chappell.

On the 31st May 1915, Captain Arthur Clarkson Chadwick the popular adjutant of 1/4 K.O.Y.L.I. was shot through the head by a German sniper and died instantly whilst casually looking around the trenches. He was 29 years old.

After the Germans used phosgene gas on the men of 1/4 K.O.Y.L.I. on the 19th of December 1915 causing many deaths, they were marched to Authuille in France in February 1916 in preparation for the Battle of the Somme. They spent the next four months training and unloading ammunition.

By the 30th June 1916, the men of 1/4 K.O.Y.L.I. were in the trenches at Aveluy Wood preparing for an attack on Thiepval on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. In the event, they were held in reserve and didn't suffer the carnage of the 1st July 1916 and were sent back to the assembly trenches as a back up.

On the 4th July 1916, they were moved back up to the front line trenches with men from 1/5 K.O.Y.L.I. and were subjected to very heavy shellfire from the Germans. On the 5th July 1916, the War Diary for 1/4 K.O.Y.L.I. has this entry:

"Enemy attacked position held by 5th K.O.Y.L.I. and gained entrance to the front line, but were rejected by two squads of the Battalion bombing platoon and "W" Company under Capt. C.H. Plackett. Capt. C.H. Plackett reported missing.

Casualties: 2nd/Lt. T.H. Riordan and 2nd/Lt. E.T. Archer wouded. Three other ranks killed (including Sergeant James Chappell) and twenty men wounded."

Sergeant James Chappell, 2476, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1st/4th Battalion died on the 5th July 1916 aged 28 years. The husband of Maria Chappell, of 7, Hilda St., Station Rd., Ossett, Yorks. He is remembered on Pier and Face 11 C and 12 A. of the Thiepval Memorial

James Chappell Medal Card

James' Medal Card indicates that he was awarded the 1915 Star, the British and Victory Medals. James Chappell's wife Maria never remarried and there were no children during their short marriage. Maria Chappell died in 1937.

Maria Chappell probate

The 1939 register places Sarah Ann (born 1880) and Edith Mary Nash (born 1883) at 7, Hilda Street. They were Maria's spinster sisters. Edith is an invalid, and Sarah is unemployed.

Somme wounded soldier - still from the film "Battle of the Somme"

Above: Still from the 1916 film, "The Battle of the Somme" – Imperial War Museum.

Thiepval Memorial

Above: The Thiepval Memorial in the Somme region of France.

Sergeant James Chappell was never remembered on the Ossett War Memorial. It is hoped that his name will now be added along with those of the other men whose names were omitted.


1. War Diary of the 1st/4th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site