Chapman was born in Burnopfield, County Durham, England. After serving with the Coldstream Guards in the 1930s, Chapman deserted and became a safecracker with London West End gangs, spending several stretches in jail for these crimes. The gangs utilized gelignite to gain entry to safes, leading Chapman and his associates to be known as the "Jelly Gang." He had affairs with a number of women on the fringes of London high society and then allegedly blackmailed them with photographs taken by an accomplice.
Well along into his criminal career he was arrested in Scotland and charged with blowing up the safe of the headquarters of the Edinburgh Co-operative Society. Let out on bail, he fled to Jersey in the Channel Islands where he attempted unsuccessfully to continue his crooked ways.
Chapman had been dining with his lover and future fiancée Betty Farmer at the Hotel de la Plage immediately before his arrest and made a spectacular exit through the dining room window (which was shut at the time) when he saw undercover police coming to arrest him for crimes on the mainland. It was later that same night, unbelievably, that he committed the slapdash burglary for which he had to immediately begin serving two years in a Jersey prison. This proved to be an ironic twist of fate which ultimately spared him at least 14 more years' imprisonment in a mainland prison afterwards.
Read more about this topic: Eddie Chapman
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