Bruce Chapple was born in the autumn of 1893, the youngest of four children to Frederick and Elizabeth Chapple. Frederick was born in Newton Abbot and ran the managed a public house in the town (now the Locomotive Inn), although the 1901 census also listed him as a tobacco pipe manufacturer.
According to the next census – in 1911 – Bruce had taken over the pipe making, which meant that Frederick was devoting his time to being a publican. By this time, Bruce had another interest; military service. He had volunteered for the Devonshire Regiment in October 1909 and, over the next few years, the 5ft 3.5ins (1.61m) tall teenager received training in and around the county.
When war broke out in 1914, Private Chapple was formally enrolled and, as part of the 1st/5th Battalion, he set out for India that October. Initially based in Multan – in what is now Pakistan – he subsequently moved on to Lahore.
Bruce spent a total of two-and-a-half years in India, receiving a promotion to Lance Corporal in the process. In March 1917, his battalion transferred to Egypt, and the now Corporal Chapple went with them.
On 23rd November, Bruce was wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to his left thigh; he was not medically repatriated for treatment, but appears to have recovered from his injury and remained in Egypt until July 1918.
Back home in England, Corporal Chapple remained in the army for a further couple of months, before he was discharged as being no longer medically fit for service in September. Sadly, the cause for his discharge is lost to time.
It is at this point that Bruce’s trail goes cold. The next available record is of his death, on 16th November 1919; he was 26 years old.
Bruce Chapple was laid to rest in the family plot in Newton Abbot Cemetery.