WW1 Sergeant Sidney Gibson Chapman 28579
Sidney Gibson Chapman (Service number 28579) was born 23 April 1884 to George C and Elizabeth Chapman in Dunedin where he was educated. After leaving school, he moved to Auckland and became a self-employed broker.
Sidney Gibson Chapman married Ella Chapman (nee Sturges) on 21 November 1912, in Otahuhu by Reverend Elliott. They lived at Sturges Road, Otahuhu and later moved to 3 Wairere (now Wairua) Road, Remuera. A son, Oswald Hector Chapman was born 18 September 1913 in Remuera, Auckland. At the time of his enlistment, 7 March 1916, he was described as 5ft 10inches tall, with dark hair and blue eyes.
He sailed for Europe on 14 March 1917, arriving in England on 21 May 1917 on the vessel ‘Ruapehu’ as a Sergeant with the 23rd Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment, A Company of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He spent his time training and studying in Sling, England. In 25 June 1917, he passed his examinations and was promoted to Corporal. On 11 March 1918 he was posted to Rouen in France at the Western Front where battles were being fought along the northern section of a 400mile (643 kms) line between Switzerland and the North Sea through strategically important countries of France and Belgium. By the 21 March 1918, the German Spring offensive, named Operation Michael, had begun targeting the area in and around the Somme in France. This crisis galvanised the Allies to better co-ordinate their forces, British, French and the Americans (who had just entered the war in December 1917 and at that time American troops were arriving in large numbers to help at the Western Front) to counter the offensive. The New Zealand Division, who were now incorporated into the British Army, were rushed to the Somme. They were sent forward to Hédauville in the Ancre Valley to fill an apparent 7-km gap between Hamel and Hébuterne, they moved into position just as the Germans mounted a new drive towards Doullens.