Captain William F Chaplin Name : William F. Chaplin
Rank : Captain
Regiment : 26th Infantry Regiment
Division : 1st Infantry Division
Entered Service from : Pennsylvania
Date of Birth : 20 July 1917
Date of Death : 16 October 1944
Place of Death : Aachen (Germany)
In Henri-Chapelle : Plot A, Row 10, Grave 50
Awards : Bronze Star with Oakleafcl.
Purple Heart

William Chaplin's Story ...

William Chaplin entered the service on 27 January 1942 from Altoona, Pennsylvania.


                    Wopsononock Train                           railroad at Altoona resort

His first Bronze Star was awarded for heroic achievements in military operations against the enemy near Hambye, Normandy, France on 30 July 1944. The citation continues, "When his company encountered heavy enemy opposition and a number of men were seriously wounded while protecting engineers constructing a bridge, Captain Chaplin skillfully maneuvered his unit into a more advantageous position and, with effective rifle fire, repulsed the hostile attack."

Engineers assembling a pontoon bridge

Chaplin continued his outstanding leadership on L-Company throughout the summer and fall of 1944 with the company receiving a Unit Commendation on 10 December 1944 for actions with the 3rd Platoon, Company C, 745th Tank Battalion on 3 September 1944 near Avesnes, France when the units, "drove through an enemy flank guard and contacted a hostile motorized and horse-drawn column north of La Longueville, France. The tanks and infantry quickly deployed and completely destroyed the enemy column, and later, upon encountering a larger force, aggressively engaged the enemy troops and dispersed them throughout the countryside. They contributed appreciably to clearing the battalion path of advance by routing a superior enemy force estimated at regimental strength and seizing approximately 1100 prisoners."

a German motorized column destroyed

Chaplin's final action took place at Aachen, Germany when the 1st Infantry Division assaulted the city defended by the German 246th Infantry Division. L-Company attacked the suburbs of Aachen on 8 October, 1944 near Brandenhof and continued to move into Aachen on 11 October, clearing out German strong-points in house to house fighting in the Factory District near Rosenthal (Observation Hill).

Aachen in ruins ... April 1945

On 15 October, the Germans launched a severe counterattack of infantry and armor towards L and I Companies which turned into bloody hand to hand fighting. Attack after attack of four German tanks (one of which was a Tiger) and infantry piled up against L-Company until the enemy withdrew at 1700 hours. The 3rd Battalion Commander reported that "L-Company saved the day."

a German Tiger tank ...

The Germans attacked L-Company again at 0900 hours on 16 October which was occupying ground on the left side of the tower on Observatory Hill. The attack lasted most of the morning and the enemy was pushed back after all 3rd Battalion reserves had been committed to the battle. As the enemy was pushed back L-Company followed the enemy and overran a German 150mm Mortar position. It was during this attack that Captain Chaplin was mortally wounded by German mortar fire around 1200 hours. For this action, Capt. Chaplin was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star medal. The citation reads, "Despite heavy mortar fire, Captain Chaplin moved fearlessly about exposed ground and directed the successful defense of a tactically important terrain feature. In the performance of his heroic mission, Captain Chaplin was mortally wounded ... He was only 27 years old !"

German mortar-crew operating their weapon

These days William Chaplin rests in the beautiful American Military Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle ... He's visited and honored by the webmaster of the In-Honored-Glory website and by Thomas Bowerman. At present the webmaster is not aware of any living relatives of William Chaplin. If you are a relative of William or if you know any of his relatives, please contact us !

Captain William F Chaplin's final resting place

Special thanks to Ed Maier (webmaster of Purple Hearts of WW II) who owns and preserves William Chaplin's medals.
published April 10, 2006