This document was donated to the Ashwell Museum by Frank Sole, Great Nephew of Victor Chapman.
Research at the IWM Duxford had mixed results. They had seen similar scrolls produced by county or municipal organisations, but of different designs and contents. It was also thought that it might have been produced or initiated by the Hertfordshire Territorial organisation, in view of the emblems of the Hertfordshire Regiment and Yeomanry which appear at the top.
Clearly this particular document was intended only for use within Hertfordshire. It would therefore appear not to have been a national initiative as such, and not a document produced to a standard design, although there may have been some encouragement from `the centre’ for such welcome scrolls to be produced at more regional or local level, with the content left to local decisions. This one was clearly led by the church, others may have been more `civic’.
Ashwell Museum hold a number of other such scrolls issued to returning Ashwell WWI soldiers.
To Victor Chapman,
We your fellow parishioners of Ashwell in the County of Hertford wish to extend to you our heart felt welcome on your return Home from serving your King and Country as a member of the Armed Forces of the Crown in the Great War A.D. 1914-1918.
Although we at Home may not have been able fully to realize the dangers, hardships and sufferings which it must have fallen to your lot to undergo, we yet ask you to believe that we are highly sensible of your heroism, endurance, contempt of danger and willingness to give your life if need be, in defence of the Land you love and for the protection of those near and dear to you against, the cruel fate designed for them by a ruthless and implacable foe.
By your gallant service in one or other of the theatres of war, in the Air, on Land, upon the Sea or under the Sea, Great Britain under the direction of Almighty God has been protected from the worst horrors of war: the enemy signally defeated: and the glorious Empire to which we belong preserved intact as a heritage for our descendants.
We wish you many years of health and happiness in which to enjoy the blessings of the Peace which your self sacrifice has assisted in securing for the whole civilized world; and in doing so ask you to accept this Letter of Thanks as a visible token of our heartfelt gratitude that along as the history of these times and of this Nation still continue the Memory of how much you have merited our Recognition may be handed on to Posterity.
SIGNED on behalf of the parishioners of Ashwell
S W P Webb (Rector & Chairman)
Wolverley A Fordham Treasurer
Sam Parkhouse Hon Sec.
Victor’s Family History
Victor Chapman was the eldest son of George Chapman of Guilden Morden and Julia Lee of Ashwell. He was born January 1895 in Ashwell being baptised at St Mary’s March 1895; he worked as a farm labourer until the WWI living with his family in Back Street.
He was one of eleven children, his brother Sidney served in WWI and also survived.
In 1914 Victor married Fanny Geeves of Hinxworth at St Mary’s Ashwell, they had one child, Victor Roy Chapman born November 1920 also baptised at St Mary’s February 1921. Victor Roy served in WWII sadly he died September 1944 serving as a Royal Artillery Gunner in Malaya, having been wounded he was returning home when the hospital ship was attacked.
Victor and Fanny moved to Letchworth and remained their until their deaths.