Howard Menelson Chaplin

Born:  1891, Lawford.
Parents: Henry and Eleanor Chaplin
Local addresses: Rudkins Farm, Lt Bromley
Unit: Norfolk Regiment, 2nd Bn.
Regimental Number: 8473
Rank: Private
Died: P.O.W. 20 Sept 1916 (aged 25)
Commemorated: Panel 10, Basra Memorial, Iraq.

Howard Menelson Chaplin was born in 1891, at Lawford, probably in Aldhams Cottages where his family lived at the time. Howard's father Henry was an agricultural labourer who had been born in Little Bromley, whilst his mother Eleanor was from Dedham; they had eight children together. 

At some point between April 1901 and April 1911, the Chaplin family moved to Rudkins Farm, which then stood on Ardleigh Road, Little Bromley, just opposite to Norman's Farm.  Howard's occupation on the 1911 Census is shown as a Farm Labourer.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, Howard volunteered to join the Norfolk Regiment, and by August 1914 it appears that was serving as a Private with the Regiment's 2nd Battalion in India. He enlisted in Ipswich.

Howard's Battalion landed on 15th November 1914 in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) which was then part of the Ottoman Empire also known as the Turkish Empire. The 2nd Norfolks were part of an Expeditionary Force which mainly consisted of Indian units.  It was despatched in an attempt to defend the oilfields in neighbouring Persia (modern day Iran) from the Turkish forces in Mesopotamia, following the Ottoman Empire's entry into the War on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Howard was captured by the Turks, almost certainly at the town of Kut Al Amara on 29th April 1916. After 147 days of being besieged by Turkish forces, and with the defenders ravaged by starvation and illness, the British Commander Major-General Townshend surrendered his troops unconditionally. 

Of the 13,300 strong garrison who surrendered at Kut, approximately 1,500 were exchanged.  The remainder, including 2,600 British, were force-marched the 100 miles to Baghdad, and from there most were then sent to Anatolia in Turkey.  Over the next two and half years in captivity nearly two thirds of the British prisoners and half of the Indian prisoners died as a result of cruelty and neglect in appalling conditions. 

Howard Chaplin died in captivity on 20th September 1916, aged 25.  After the war Howard was officially commemorated on the Basra Memorial, in Iraq.  The Memorial commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the autumn of 1914 to the end of August 1921, and whose graves are not known.