`

Hartlepool firm helps identify family after appeal to find brave soldier’s relatives

Ans at the grave.
Ans at the grave.

A Hartlepool firm has stepped in to help locate relatives of a town soldier killed in ther Second World War.

The Mail launched an appeal earlier this week to find relatives of Lance Corporal John Chapman, who died on September 20, 1944, in the Oosterbeek area of Holland during the Battle of Arnhem.

John Chapman family tree.

John Chapman family tree.

After the war schools in the area asked pupils to adopt the graves and Dutch pensioner Ans van Wijck-Hobé tended the grave of an unknown soldier and the grave of John Chapman.

Ans is appealing for people from Hartlepool to come forward in a bid to locate his family in the hope of getting in touch.

Ans was a 12-year-old girl when she says she met what she thought was Mr Chapman’s parents.

An interpreter was present to help with communication, and Ans was photographed with the two Chapmans, but unfortunately she lost the picture.

John Chapman family tree.

John Chapman family tree.

But now Hartlepool firm HeirHunter UK has looked into the case to help out with the search.

They have discovered that John Chapman was one of six siblings which also included Clifford, Thomas, Isabel, Edward and Alexander.

Sadly, Thomas died aged one, Edward died aged three and Alexander died aged one, leaving John, Clifford and Isabel as the surviving bloodline.

Although Ans remembers meeting a pregnant woman and small child, HeirHunter UK are unable to determine if John Chapman ever married.

Lance Corporal John Chapman's grave.

Lance Corporal John Chapman's grave.

But his brother Clifford married Esther Frost in 1955. Clifford passed away in 1986 and Esther passed away on July 1 this year, with her funeral service held this week in Huddersfield.

The town research firm says John’s mother, Jane Mary Chapman (nee Boumphrey) died in 1926.

John was raised by his father and maternal auntie Frances Ann Graham (nee Boumphrey), it is believed that Ans must have met John Chapman and Frances Graham when she refered to the deceased’s parents.

Sarah Kinnie, of HeirHunter UK, said: “Prior to the article being released, we were contacted by a local ex-soldier to ask if we could help locate the relatives of John Chapman. After hearing the moving story of Ans and how she had attended the Hartlepool soldier’s grave, we were eager to help.

“We are probate researchers and family tracing specialists based in the town so, we used all of the resources at our disposal to locate his relatives.

“It is difficult to fully comprehend the great courage that these soldiers had. We reunite long, lost family members day in, day out. However, this heartfelt story will be one that sticks in my mind over the passage of time.”

Schoolchildren of Oosterbeek have been placing flowers on the graves from September 1946 until now and Ans, as well as the other schoolchildren, was provided with a candle bearing name of the deceased, his grave number and a small map of the cemetery so the children could always find ‘their’ graves.

Anyone with information can contact Peter Tennick on 0191 5017471.