The Inverness-based Ross-Shire Journal became one of the first newspapers to cover the “Blighty Thank God” podcast when it ran a short feature on the project recently.
Flight Sgt Ron Chapman’s experiences of World War II in West Africa, the Middle East and Europe are now being retold in the podcasts – complete with stories of gold smuggling, the sudden deaths of colleagues and secret supply missions – more than four decades after his death.
The Journal reveals Ron had never told his three sons about its existence – and their knowledge of his wartime experiences were relatively limited. But that all changed thanks to the chance discovery of a diary that he had written in 1943 when he was just 22 – and which his children and grandchildren had known nothing about.
The document only came to light a decade ago after they found it among their late mother’s possessions at her Maryburgh home – near Dingwall in the Socttish Highlands – shortly after she passed away.
“The podcast is a mix of ‘The Repair Shop’ meets ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’,” explained son, Neil Chapman, who produces and hosts the podcast. The voices of two of Ron’s grandchildren – David Chapman and Claire MacDonald, both of Inverness as well as their father, Ian Chapman of Maryburgh – are all featured in podcast episodes.
““At first read, the diary has a lot of day-to day stuff and apparent trivia. But when I transcribed the entries I started to find clues about bigger events that my father experienced or was affected by. Involving my father’s grandchildren was a way of bringing him to life for them, because they never knew him.” Neil told the Journal.