Date added: 14 Jun 2015
One soldier's story
Private Thomas Chapman, born on Valentine’s Day 1790, was laid to rest in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, in the village of Comberton, Cambridgeshire. A simple stone bears his name but the long passage of time has made the remaining words illegible. No man’s contribution to his community should be forgotten, particularly one who served his community with distinction, fighting for his country on thirty two engagements in distant campaigns. It is our task two centuries on to see that Thomas Chapman’s story lives on as do the tales of bravery from the many regiments assembled on 18th June 1815 for what the Duke of Wellington described as the "nearest run thing you ever saw." An army is never one man’s war, the leader, however skilful, however capable and however experienced relies on the thousands of ordinary soldiers under his command. So whilst the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte is the story of the clash of two great commanders, of two of history’s legendary generals, of the great European nations, it is also the story of ordinary men who carry out the orders of those generals risking life and limb for a flag and a cause. So often we know the story of the great and the powerful, those stories are fascinating, vital to our understanding and give us much to consider, we need also to see what the view was like from the columns as they marched into battle. Their stories make up the bigger canvas on which our histories are painted.