Sergeant Leslie George Chapman (967658) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of Captain JE Chapman of Dublin, Ireland and the husband of Kathleen V Chapman of 52 Old Cavehill Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Leslie enlisted on the first day of World War Two. Before the outbreak of war, he worked in insurance and was well known in Belfast’s business community. He saw action in France and was part of the last squadron to leave Dunkirk in 1940.
Court Case in Newtownards
In January 1941, Chapman became involved in a court case relating to 4 gallons of stolen aircraft fuel. The charge was that he aided and abetted Louis Morrison of Lismoyne Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim in the theft. The fuel belonged to the Air Ministry. The men allegedly acquired it for motor vehicle use without surrendering ration coupons.
The 4 gallons of fuel was found wrapped in a rug in Morrison’s car on 22nd July 1941 while he and Chapman were in a fish and chip shop. A police constable examined the car as he noticed it parked with one headlight burning.
Morrison had met with Chapman to discuss running a concert for the troops at an airbase. He claimed to have no knowledge of the fuel although the prosecution put it that this was his payment for the concert organisation. A second charge of theft of 5 empty fuel tins was also put to Leslie George Chapman. Some of the tins were hidden at Chapman’s mother-in-law’s house at Ormonde Park, Finaghy, Co. Antrim.
Resident Magistrate Mr. SC Clarke dismissed the case on Thursday 29th January 1942 at Newtownards Petty Sessions Court. The court dismissed Chapman’s case as the Royal Air Force dealt with his punishment.
Remembering Leslie George Chapman
Chapman died on 11th March 1942 aged 30 years old when Westland Lysander T1577 of RAF 231 Squadron came down around 2.5 miles northeast of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. The plane first struck a tree before the crew lost control and it collided with a house.
Air Gunner Chapman and Pilot Sergeant William Russell Rattray were on a low-level tactical reconnaissance exercise from RAF Maghaberry, Co. Antrim.
Leslie George Chapman’s grave is in Glenalina Extension, Section AS, Grave 119 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim.