b. 1885 Sydney, Australia. d. 21/08/1945 Epsom, New Zealand.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 27/03/1920 Paparoa Valley, New Zealand.
Charles hailed originally from Sydney, Australia (son of Thomas and Frances (nee Green), and after leaving school became a foreman. In 1905 he married Catherine May Mines, and they had a son and two daughters. Following his AM action, he was presented with his medal by Lord Jellicoe, the Governor-General of New Zealand at Government House in Auckland on June 4th 1923. He also received the Gold Medal from the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand. He died in Auckland from Parkinson’s Disease on21st August 1945 and was laid to rest with his wife in Waikumete Cemetery.
In the early hours of March 27th,. 1920, great destruction was caused by a severe flood which swept through the Paparoa Valley. An immense volume of water descended from the upper valley, where for miles the course of the torrent was marked by land slides. Houses and huts were washed away and, unhappily, some of the occupants lost their lives. Chapman, on receiving news of the disaster, put on a bathing costume and at once set out for the Paparoa Township, to find that the River which runs through the Township had become a raging torrent, the water reaching almost to the top rail of the bridge spanning the river. Two men (one of whom could not swim) were clinging to timber in the middle of the river, while a crowd of terror-stricken people looked on helplessly from the bank. His first act was to rescue these men. This he did—twice swimming out to them—but only after very strenuous efforts. He then heard that a woman and her child were in danger higher up the river, and went to their assistance. He found the woman clinging to a tree and swam out to her; but to effect a rescue he had to return for a plank. A wooden form was available, and this he endeavoured to tow out to the woman and child. The rope broke, but his second effort, when a length of fencing wire had been procured, was successful, and he brought first the child then the mother to the bank.
BURIAL LOCATION: WAIKUMETE CEMETERY, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.
Waikumete Cemetery, Nonconformist Division C, Row 26, Plot 15
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY OWNED.
Allan Stanistreet – Image of Charles Chapman AM.
John Snashall – Image of Chapman AM grave in Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland.