Private William Leonard Chapman scroll CREDIT Barbara Daniels
The scroll was discovered among a pile of books donated to the Lions Book Club (Picture: Barbara Daniels).
History

Can you help find family of soldier who died during Battle of the Somme?

Barbara Daniels wants to reunite a scroll she discovered with the family of Private William Leonard Chapman.

Private William Leonard Chapman scroll CREDIT Barbara Daniels
The scroll was discovered among a pile of books donated to the Lions Book Club (Picture: Barbara Daniels).

A charity book shop volunteer has made it her mission to track down the family of a soldier who was killed in action in France during the Battle Of The Somme. 

Barbara Daniels, 79, 'Lions Book Shop' founder-turned-volunteer, discovered the scroll dedicated to Private William Leonard Chapman of the Northamptonshire Regiment, among a collection of donated books but by the time the item had been found, it was unclear who the owner was.

Speaking to Forces News, Barbara explained how she discovered the scroll, saying: "I was down there the other day and I found this scroll and I said to the person who was there, 'is anybody doing anything about this?' and they said 'no'.

"It turned up with a load of books and it's just been, you know, laying around. 

"So, I said, well, I'll take it and do something with it. 

"If I can reunite it with its family that would be wonderful." 

Written on the scroll in exquisite pen and ink writing, are the following emotive words: 

"He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. 

"Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten. 

"Pte William Leonard Chapman 

"Northamptonshire Regiment." 

Private William Leonard Chapman scroll CREDIT Barbara Daniels
Pte Chapman was killed in action on 29 September 2016 (Picture: Barbara Daniels).

After some research by Barbara's son-in-law, Howard, the family discovered that Pte Chapman from Potten End, near Hemel Hempstead, where the Lions Book Shop is, originally enlisted with the Bedfordshire Regiment but then transferred to the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment. 

The 31-year-old was killed in action in France on 29 September 1916. 

Pte Chapman was born in Great Gaddesden and is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery, France. 

Barbara said: "His father, Mr C Chapman of 12 Potten End, ordered his headstone inscription which reads 'his end was peace'." 

Barbara Daniels Lions Book Shop founder and volunteer CREDIT Barbara Daniels
Barbara Daniels discovered the scroll among a pile of donated books (Picture: Barbara Daniels).

The person who donated the books, among which the scroll was discovered, has not been found, although Barbara does believe they must live in or near Potten End. 

She said: "We sort of think that perhaps if they were getting rid of books and what have you into the bookshop, perhaps they were leaving the area or perhaps somebody had died and they were clearing the estate or something?" 

"We're going to go to Potten End – it's just two miles from here – and look at the war memorial. 

"We will go to the Holy Trinity Church and look there and perhaps if the church is open... we, you know, we might be able to find out a bit more." 

 

The Lions Book Shop was set up in 2010 by Barbara who had volunteered at other charity shops but wanted to do something special to raise money for Lions Club International, a charity close to her heart. 

The non-political and non-religious charity, which describes its work as "leading by example, building relationships and improving the world through kindness", was established in 1917 by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones to respond to the social problems created by the First World War. 

Lions Club International has 1.4 million volunteers as part of a global network who all focus on serving their local community and raising money for five causes that affect people around the world – diabetes, environment, hunger, vision and childhood cancer. 

Barbara said: "I've been a Lion for some years and we were looking for a way to A) serve the community and B) make some money for our charity and so I thought … whether or not the council will let us have an empty shop for six weeks while we raise a few bob and perhaps help people to buy books that haven't got loads of money. 

"They granted us an empty shop and we set the bookshop up and it's been going ever since." 

If you can help Barbara discover the whereabouts of Pte Chapman's family, email [email protected] and we will pass on your details.