Handy Island

Handy Island
"The Air War Finds A Handy South Atlantic Island" was the caption on this Peter Hurd painting of Ascension Island, from Life Magazine, April 1945. It was the only place for pilots to refuel between Natal and West Africa.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Capt. Chapman Served On World's Remotest Islands"

During a recent trip to Birmingham, Alabama, I was able to find this article in the microfilm, and thus date it correctly and get the page number of it (something my grandmother didn't include when she pasted the article in her scrapbook, though I bless her for saving it.)  It was in the Shades Valley Sun,  Friday, September 28, 1945, page 10.
Homewood, Alabama--September 1945--"The war has taken Capt. Wm. Ashley Chapman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Chapman, of Palmetto St., into the "darndest" places.  Back in Sept. 1941, with a unit of aviation engineers he landed on Ascension Island, located midway out in the ocean between South America and Africa. He arrived there with the first unit of American troops and for two whole years remained there.

"Although a 'God forgotten' spot with only about 25 square miles of territory and a soil that can only be cut with a rock drill, this island proved an invaluable stop over point in the great movement of men and materials by plan to Africa during the early stages of the war.  Capt. Chapman and his men built and kept up the air field on this "unsinkable aircraft carrier."

"After coming back to America and spending six months in Spokane Washington, where he married, Capt. Chapman got orders to proceed to the Japanese theater.  After passing Honolulu, he finally ended up on Ie Shima, a Japanese island just off Okinawa, no larger than Ascension Island and just about as barren.

"But as it happened, Ie Shima was in a very strategic position and America's holding of it was a big secret for a time.  It was the nearest American held outpost to Japan and when the Japanese envoys went to Manila to meet General MacArthur they changed planes at Ie Shima.  Capt. Chapman was one of the first Americans to see the envoys and he was "right there" as American press photographers took pictures of the scene.

"So while Capt. Chapman served in the most out-of-the-way places he was in the right spot when the surrender came.

"Before long Capt. Chapman hopes to come back to the States, picking up his wife in Spokane and visiting his folks in Homewood before settling down, and he is quite sure he is not going to pick some island like Ascension or Ie Shima on which to live."

(RC note:  I don't know if I mentioned it, but my grandfather, Roy Chapman, was in the advertising business.  Thus it is that some things get into a newspaper ... )

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