A fitting farewell for former RAF serviceman Jim
- Credit: Archant
Members of the armed forces past and present were among 60 people who attended the funeral of an RAF veteran from Holme.
Jim Chapman, of Holmewood, served in the air force during the Second World War.
The 98-year-old, who was born in Great Gidding, joined the RAF in 1939, signing up before his 20th birthday.
If he had waited until after his birthday, he could have been sent to any of the three main armed services and, as he couldn’t swim, he said he wanted to avoid the navy.
He spent six weeks training in Blackpool and, after a fortnight at home, moved to Topcliffe, in Yorkshire.
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While at Topcliffe, Mr Chapman was given two days leave to marry his childhood sweetheart, Bettie.
In 1942, after two years in Yorkshire, Mr Chapman boarded the Viceroy of India, sailing from Liverpool to Egypt.
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On this journey, the convoy was attacked by a submarine, which was destroyed by the escorting small warships called corvettes.
He arrived at the 101 MU ammunition and bomb distribution camp at RAF Tura, where he helped transport bombs from a secret storage facility to RAF airfields.
After the war, Mr Chapman returned to working as a huntsman in Lincolnshire until he retired and moved back to Huntingdonshire.
Mr Chapman did not initially claim the service medals that were due to him but, in a ceremony held at RAF Wyton in 2014, he was presented with the Defence Medal, the 1939-1945 Star, the Africa Star and the War Medal, as well as his veteran’s badge by Group Captain John Rolf.
Mr Chapman died on December 11, and his good friend and neighbour Stanley Kaye decided to organise his funeral.
Serving members of the military, and service veterans from the Royal British Legion turned up to pay their respects to Mr Chapman at a service held at St Michael’s Church, in Great Gidding, on January 15.
Mr Kaye had known Mr Chapman for 30 years, and said that he always had a story to tell.
Mr Kaye said: “He was someone that was really special to me. He used to invite me over and tell me all the stories he had from the Second World War. He was an amazing person and had some great stories to tell. It was really nice for so many people to turn up and give him the send off that he really deserves.”