John Chaplin was born on 1st August 1911, the second son of Ernest Charles George Morgan Chaplin and Gertrude Alys, daughter of Henry Hubbard, a solicitor. The family lived at Sotwell House, Wallingford. John’s half brother, Rowland Chaplin, was also at Winchester and was killed at Neuville Vitasse in April 1917 (see individual entry). John was 8th on the Winchester Election Roll in 1925, winning the senior Duncan mathematics prize in 1928 and the King’s Gold Medal for English Essay in 1930. He was a House prefect from September 1928 and a school prefect from September the following year. In 1927 he came 4th in the junior high jump and 9th in junior steeplechase. He was a member of Debating Society from 1928 and also a member of the Shakespeare Reading Society.
He gained a scholarship to Magdalene College, Cambridge where he read Mathematics and Modern Languages, gaining his BA in 1933 and his MA in 1937. He attended the Sorbonne before joining the Foreign Office in 1934. He was part of a mission to Nepal in 1937 and to Angora in 1938 and as a Second Secretary went to Iraq in 1939.
He was killed on 1st February 1945 when the York transport aircraft in which he was travelling to the Yalta conference came down in a forced landing in Pantelleria harbour. A fault in the plane’s navigation system led the pilot to think he was over Malta rather than Pantelleria and after circling round for some time asking for the aerodrome to be lit for landing, found they were running out of fuel and would land on the sea. The plane’s under-carriage hit a sunken wreck, tearing off the bottom of the plane and killing all the passengers, amongst whom was another Wykehamist, Lieutenant Colonel Ivor Stuart Huntley (College 1920-1925) (see individual entry).
John Chaplin is buried in the Imtarfa Military Cemetery, Malta.
- Surname: Chaplin
- Forenames or initials: John
- House: College
- Years in School: 1925-1930
- Rank: NA
- Regiment: Civilian
- Date of Birth: 1st August 1911
- Date of Death: 1st February 1945
- How Died: Killed in Flying Accident
- Location in War Cloister: Not recorded
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Imtarfa Military Cemetery, Malta