Aubrey Fletcher Chaplin was born on 1st July 1881 at Brooksby Hall, situated between Leicester and Melton Mowbray. His father was London born barrister Ernest Chaplin, son of William Jones Chaplin M.P. His mother was Sophy Jane, daughter of the Rev. Edward Elmhurst, rector of Shawell. They married on 12th May 1864 and moved to Brooksby Hall shortly afterwards.
In 1890 the family sold the Hall and in 1891 were lodging in Hastings. Aubrey was not with the family, perhaps at school.
In July 1895 he became a cadet at HMS Conway in Liverpool. After two years he joined a merchant ship the Hawksdale. Six months later in January 1898 the ship ran aground on the sands between Margate and Clacton. Seventeen year old Aubrey later received a medal for rescuing the ship’s cat. The cat was later cared for by Aubrey’s parents, now living at “The Firs” in Bilton Road, Rugby.
Aubrey served as an apprentice on two more ships and on 6th December 1900 received his certificate to serve as 2nd mate on foreign-going ships. His address was given as 107 Penny Lane, Liverpool. His height was 5ft 6in, and he had a dark complexion and dark hair and eyes.
It is not known if he went sea after this, but in 1901 he was at home with his parents, occupation merchant marine. Ernest Chaplin died in 1902, leaving nearly £20,000. In 1911 Aubrey was living with his widowed mother. The address was “The Beeches” in Clifton upon Dunsmore (although the families address was always given as “The Firs” in Bilton Road. He was engaged in poultry farming.
Aubrey must have been called up at the start of the war. He joined the Northamptonshire Yeomanry as lance corpl. (No. 955) His entry to theatre of war was 6th November 1914. He would have been involved in a lot of the action in France, finally dying on 10th April 1917 at the Battle of Arras.
The Northamptonshire Yeomanry was in action on the opening day of the Battle of Arras and passed trough the infantry at around 5.00 pm. On reaching the crossroads at Fampoux it encountered some opposition, but acquitted itself well by driving off several snipers and capturing six field guns. More importantly though, it secured the road and railway bridges across the Scarpe. This was crucial as it provided a link between the 15th (Scottish) Division south of the river and the 4th Division north of it.
(Visiting the Fallen-Arras South, Peter Hughes, Pen and Sword, 2015)
Lieutenant Aubrey Fletcher Chaplin was the first of four officers from the regiment to be killed in action that month.
He was buried at Beaurains Road Cemetery, Beaurains. Plot A.1
The Rugby Advertiser first reported his death, on 21st Apr, as occurring on 8th April but all other sources give it as 10th.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM