LIEUTENANT ELLIOT ADAMS CHAPIN
ROYAL AIR FORCE
27TH JUNE 1918 AGE 23
BURIED: CHAMBIERES FRENCH NATIONAL CEMETERY, MOSELLE, FRANCE
Oh my goodness - read this!
On June 27, while bombing Thionville, he was engaged in combat by a German plane at a height of thirteen thousand feet; an incendiary bullet pierced his petrol tank, and his machine fell in flames. His friend, Lieutenant Walker, of the same squadron (the 99th), who was only fifty feet away from Lieutenant Chapin when he fell, wrote:-
"When he saw death staring him in the face, I saw him turn round to his observer, reach out his hand, and shake hands with him. He died a hero's death, unafraid, and was a son for any parents to be proud of. ..."
[Quoted from Phillips Academy Andover in the Great War]
"When he saw death staring him in the face, I saw him turn round to his observer, reach out his hand, and shake hands with him." RAF pilots and their observers did not carry parachutes until September 1918. It was known that if a plane was hit the wood and doped canvas would burn like a torch. It was a horrible way to die and some pilots apparently carried guns in order to shoot themselves rather than burn to death. In the face of certain death, Chapin turned round and shook his observer's hand ... it doesn't bear thinking about. But as his inscription says, 'I am not afraid to die'.
Elliot Adams Chapin was an American citizen, born in Massachussetts to American-born parents. Whilst still at Harvard, he enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps in September 1917. After training in Canada and Texas, he sailed for England early in 1918. In France he joined 99 Squadron flying DH 9 bombers and was shot down returning from a bombing mission on the railway at Thionville.