Frederick G. Chapman, Jr.

 
Frederick G

October 22, 1922 Easton, PA
June 6, 1944 Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

 


EARLY YEARS

Frederick G. "Chip" Chapman Jr. was born on Sunday October 22, 1922 in Easton PA. He was the oldest of five children and an only son. His parents, Frederick G. Chapman Sr. and Mary Mattes moved to America from England. Growing up he was an avid swimmer and liked to sing and dance. His niece Linda remembers a family story about how Fred came to the aid of his mother. One day while she was hanging up wash she had the laundry in a worn wicker basket. A piece of the basket stabbed her in one of the main arteries in her leg and he tended to her leg til help could be gotten.
 
Fred at 15 weeks of age
Fred in 1931 class picture
Photo taken around March 1, 1923
when Fred was 15 weeks old.
Grade school photo probably taken
when he was in 4th grade (1931)

 
Fred with his grandparents
Fred with his parents and sisters
Fred with his grandparents Family photo taken in early 1942
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Some of Fred's ribbons for swimming and bowling Before the D-Day invasion Fred had proposed to Marie Muratore.
They planned on getting married the next time the Fred returned to the United States.

 

 

MILITARY CAREER

Fred enlisted in the Army on Tuesday January 21, 1941 while still a senior at Easton High School. He was 18 years old at the time. A newspaper article from January 25th of that year reports that he enlisted at the Army's recruiting station in the Post Office in Phillipsburg (NJ). Phillipsburg is just across the Delaware River from his hometown of Easton. At that time enlistees were allowed to select the unit they ultimately wanted to join and Fred made the decision to join the 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, then garrisoned at Fort Jay, NY. We can't know for sure but the location of Fort Jay (on Governors Island in New York Harbor) may have had some influence on his decision. From the ramparts of this fort he could easily see the New York City skyline - lower Manhattan is less than 1/2 mile away. The prospects for an 18 year old from a small town in Pennsylvania would have been pretty exciting. New York City Mayor La Guardia named the 16th "New York's own" and the "Sidewalks of New York" became the Regimental song. He was to spend his entire military career with the 16th Infantry. I have been able to determine that as of 4 October 1941 he was a Private in Company "A", 16th Inf Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

Fred with a friend in England
 
Fred's military awards
At some point Fred's unit shipped out to England where training continued for some period of time. This would have been in preparation for OPERATON TORCH, the invasion of North Africa which began on November 8, 1942. This photo of Fred (seen standing on the right) was taken somewhere in England, probably in the fall of 1942. The scenery and the fact that he has no medals or campaign ribbons leads me to believe this was taken before he shipped out to North Africa.
 
On June 28, 1943 his family received a telegram from Washington informing them that Fred had been Wounded in Action in the North Africa area on April 3rd. Luckily they had already received a letter from Fred himself in which he let them know the details and that he was in good condition and already back with his unit.
 
He suffered a shrapnel wound to his right shoulder and after spending several weeks in the hospital he was returned to full duty with his unit. He received his first Purple Heart medal for this wound. This wound was serious enough that he could have requested to go home but his family said that he told them that he and his unit had "gone over together and they would come home together" when it was all over. Sadly that wasn't to be the case. Below is a copy of the telegram the family received.
 
After North Africa the 16th Infantry Regiment landed in Sicily. They fought in Italy until they were returned to England in preparation for the D-Day landings. These three campaigns earned Fred three stars on his European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal seen on the left.
 
Fred earned the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 stars, the American Defense Medal (not shown) and the Good conduct Medal.

WIA Telegram
Fred's mother wrote this chronology of his service.
 
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D-DAY

View from landing craft in EASY RED section

 
A Coast Guard-manned LCVP from the USS Samuel Chase APA-26 disembarks Company E, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment assaulting Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944.
 
Photographed by Robert F. Sargent, USCG.
 
The view Fred saw would have looked virtually identical to this.
On D-Day he was with Company "A", 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. He landed on Omaha Beach in the EASY RED section in the 3rd wave at H+70 (70 minutes after the first boats landed). Machine gun and mortar fire on this section of the beach was withering. He was stationed in the rear of the landing craft he came ashore in. His best friend, who was stationed in the front of the boat was killed before he ever got off of the ramp. After wading ashore, Fred made it up onto the beach but was killed approximately 2 hours later. His cause of death is listed as a gun shot wound to the chest.
 
Of the approximately 73,000 Americans who landed in France on D-Day (23,250 on UTAH Beach, 34,250 on OMAHA Beach and 15,500 Airborne troops) over 2,200 were killed. Fred was one of them.
 

 
Telegram announcing Fred's death

 

BURIAL

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Memorial marking the location of the first temporary cemetery in France.

 
One of Fred's dog tags
Fred's dog tag
Immediately after D-Day and in the following weeks and months, the bodies of soldiers were retrieved from temporary battlefield graves and consolidated into temporary cemeteries constructed by the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS). After the war the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was created and charged with the task of designing, building and maintaining permanent overseas cemeteries to hold the remains of service men and women whose families elected to have them interred overseas. Permanent burials were performed by the AGRS. The monument on the left marks the location of the temporary cemetery set up on Omaha Beach. Fred was buried here on June 9th at 5:00 PM in Plot "A", Row 6, grave 111. Buried on Fred's right was Pvt Jay Mabee who was killed on June 7th. On his left was Pvt James D Whited who died on June 6th. Fred's personal effects were gathered and returned to his family.
 
Permanent burial would have to wait until the war ended.
 
Back home in Easton, PA a funeral mass was said in Fred's honor at St Joseph's Church on Tuesday August 7, 1945.
 
Fred was finally laid to rest for the last time on April 6, 1949 in Plot "G", Row 20, Grave 23 of the Normandy American Cemetery which sits on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach where he was killed. Many people wonder about the decision thousands of American families made to leave their sons and daughters in overseas cemeteries. In the case of Fred's family the decision was made based on how much the family had suffered when they first learned of his death. In 1947 the family decided that it would be too painful to bring his body home and have to go through another funeral and the pain that would have caused. In the end it was less painful for the family to have Fred reburied with the men he fought and died with. Based on the numbers of men from the 16th Inf he is among friends.

 
Interment letter

Gravesite

fgc102215-2.jpg Fred's headstone in 2015

 
October 22, 2015
93th birthday

 
fgc102213.jpg Fred's headstone in 2014

 
October 22, 2014
92th birthday

 
fgc102213.jpg Fred's headstone in 2013

 
October 22, 2013
91th birthday

 
fgc102212.jpg Fred's headstone in 2012

 
October 22, 2012
90th birthday

 
fgc102211.png Fred's headstone Oct 2011

 
October 22, 2011
89th birthday

 
chapman2010-2.png Fred's headstone 2010

 
October 22, 2010
88th birthday

 
Flowers placed on Fred's grave 10-22-09

 
October 22, 2009
87th birthday
Flowers placed on his grave 10-22-08

 
October 22, 2008
86th birthday

 
Fred's headstone
FREDERICK G. CHAPMAN JR
SGT 16 INF 1 DIV
PENNSYLVANIA JUNE 6 1944

 
Inscription on Fred's headstone
Photo taken Tuesday May 16, 2006

 
My son, Mike, and I visited the Normandy American Cemetery on May 16, 2006 for the express purpose of "adopting" one of the graves to decorate each year. Fred's grave was selected randomly without looking at the name or date on the headstone. When we came home I put up a simple memorial page in his honor. His neice, Linda Schrack, found the site very shortly after it was posted and she supplied all the additional details about Fred's life. He was killed before she was born. Several years ago she was able to visit his grave and personally place flowers.
 
To help keep the memory of this valiant young man alive I have flowers placed on his grave every year on October 22, his birthday. I know that flowers on the graves draw people and for that brief moment when they pause in front of his grave and read his headstone, he is remembered.
 
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The location of Fred's grave is maked by the small red dot just over half way down
in the right hand side of this aerial photo.
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Fred's grave in Section "G".
His grave is one of 9,387 in this cemetery.

 


 
If you served with Fred or can shed any light on his life or death we would like to hear from you.
His grave was picked at random during a trip my son and I made to Normandy in May 2006.

 
We would like to keep his memory alive. Please contact me at:
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I would like to thank Linda Schrack and Elise Coleman for providing the photos and biographical information
that are so helpful in allowing us to see Fred Chapman as a real person
who died during what has come to be known as
The Longest Day.

 

AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION LINKS

   ABMC video about the Normandy American cemetery
   ABMC video with some D-Day video
   ABMC booklet about the cemetery in PDF format

 

SOURCES

   (1) Brief history of the 16th Inf Reg, 1st Inf. Division
   (2) Company "A" Roster @ Oct 4, 1941 showing Fred as a member
   (3) Wikipedia entry for the Normandy Landings
   (4) USS HENRICO - one of ships landing troops on EASY RED beach
   (5) 16th Inf WWII photos
   (6) 16th Inf D-Day photos
   (7) History of "E" Company, 16th Inf, 1st Inf Division
   (8) Information on Fort Jay
   (9) Landing order for EASY RED section. Showing "A" company at H+70


 
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Copyright. James M. Lavelle 2007-2016

All material is copyrighted by James M. Lavelle and may not be used for any purpose without written permission of the author. All photos of Fred and his family are used with the permission of the Chapman family who own all rights to them. The photo of the D-Day landing is from the collections of the United States National Archives. Not responsible for any offsite materials.