|Carte de Visite
J. W. Jacklett - Photographer
160 Victoria Road. Aldershot, England
This tattered carte de visite in another example of a photograph overlooked by collectors because of its deplorable condition. One can only
imagine how many times such historic images are thrown away simply because they are battered and seem of little worth. What sets this otherwise
mundane image apart is the fact that the soldier pictured – Arthur Chaplin - took the brief moment to place his personal rubber stamp on the
photograph’s reverse. The rubber stamp also contained his home address which greatly assisted in narrowing down his identity.
Arthur Chaplin was born about 1874 at Leeds, Yorkshire the son of Thomas Chaplin a fitter at a wool mill. The name of Arthur Chaplin’s mother is
uncertain since in the 1881 Census for Leeds, Yorkshire his father is shown living with one Jane Garth who was listed with the household as
“mistress” and “living unmarried” while Thomas Chaplin was listed as “married”. This seems to imply that the seven-year-old Arthur’s parents
had separated by 1881 but never divorced.
Arthur Chaplin attested with the 4th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment when two months shy of his 18th birthday on 3 August 1892. Just a
few short months later on 10 February 1893, he attested for regular army short service with the 1st Battalion, the Wiltshire Regiment with the
service number of 3463.
Posted with the 1st Battalion at Curragh Camp, Ireland Chaplin was granted his first good conduct pay on 10 February 1895. On 21 February 1899
Chaplin was posted to the 2nd Battalion and granted his second good conduct pay. For reasons unspecified in his service papers, Chaplin forfeited
his good conduct pay on 21 September 1899. His good conduct pay was reinstated exactly one year later in 1900. Chaplin seems to have been
going through a difficult period in his military service about this time since he was sentenced by a regimental court-martial – again for unspecified
reasons – 21-day imprisonment with hard labor on 21 August 1901, forfeiting his good conduct pay at the same time. Chaplin’s infraction –
whatever it was – occurred while he was deployed to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War.
Chaplin was apparently wounded during the war, suffering a gunshot wound to one his legs.
Arthur Chaplin had his good conduct pay restored to him on 12 September 1902 and was discharged from the 2/Wiltshire Regiment on 9 February
Chaplin’s postings at home and abroad included:
Home: 10 February 1892 – 16 September 1895
India: 17 September 1895 – 28 November 1898
Home: 28 November 1898 – 15 December 1899
South Africa: 16 December 1899 – 22 September 1902
Home: 23 September 1902 - 9 February 1905
Chaplin was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the clasps: “Paardeberg”, “Johannesburg” and “Relief of Kimberley”. He was also
presented the King’s South Africa Medal with its standard two clasps “South Africa 1901” and “South Africa 1902”.
Before his discharge, Arthur Chaplin married Miss Rose Ayliffe at Leeds on 13 February 1904.
Chaplin’s service papers were re-opened on the same day of his discharge and remained so until 1 March 1909 when he was again discharged. No
details as to the nature of this extended service are given in his service documents.
With the coming of World War One Arthur Chaplin re-enlisted as a private now with the 7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment on 6th July
1914. Appointed lance corporal (unpaid) on 6 May 1915 his appointment was upgraded to paid status on 28 July 1915. Chaplin was promoted
acting sergeant on 13 December 1915. On 12 February 1916, he was granted extra pay as a signaling instructor.
Chaplin served with the 7/Yorkshires at home from 6 August 1914 to 14 April 1915 before deploying to France on 15 April 1915. He served with
the Expeditionary Force until returning home on 27 July 1917. He was discharged at the end of his term of engagement at his actual rank of
private – he was 43 years old – on 3 August 1917.
Chaplin received a Mention in Despatches for gallantry and distinguished service in the field on 30 November 1915. Although the exact nature of
Chaplin’s act is not known it was notable enough to warrant him being awarded the Military Medal for “bravery in the field”. He would also
receive the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals for his service in the First World War.
Arthur Chaplin re-enlisted with the 7/West Yorkshires after the end of the war as a private on 15 July 1920 and was promoted sergeant and
appointed signal sergeant five days later on 20 July 1920. He served apparently in a training capacity until receiving his final discharge on 14 July
Arthur and Rose would have at least five children: Arthur, Jr. (b. 1904), Milicent (b. 1906), Edward (b. 1908), and Harry (b. 1917). Two of the
children, Milicent and Edward would die less than a month apart in early 1908. The 1911 census shows Chaplin employed as a machine operator at
an iron foundry in Yorkshire.
Arthur Chaplin passed away the General Infirmary, Leeds on 5 February 1935. His obituary which appeared in the 8 February 1935 issue of the
Leeds Mercury states that a coroner's inquest found Chaplin's death was due to the lingering effects (osteomyelitis) his wartime wounding.
|Left: The reverse side of Chaplin's much battered photograph
showing the rubber stamp bearing his name and address.
Chaplin and his family lived at this Cherry Street address after
his discharge from the army following the Anglo-Boer War.
They still resided there after his final discharge from the army
in the early 1920s. From the condition of this photograph with
its numerous cracks, splits, stains and heavily round corners it
appears to have been carried on a person for an extended
period of time.