Richard was the only son of Richard and Louisa Chapman of Lyndon, Ashford NSW. His birth was registered at Collarenebri in 1893. About six years later his family came to the Inverell district to live. Richard attended Fern Hill Public School and the New England Grammar School.
He was a twenty two year old Labourer and had served four months with the Dinton Vale Rifle Club when he enlisted at Armidale in January 1916. After becoming a member of the 33rd Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement he left Australia in September 1916 on the transport ship HMAT A15 Port Sydney. He was only in England for a few weeks before being sent to France. He became ill and was returned to England for treatment in April 1917. Three months later he rejoined his Battalion in France.
Private Richard Chapman was wounded on 13 October 1917 during the Battle of Passchendale and removed to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station where he died the following day.
At the Ashford Presbyterian Church a memorial tablet was placed in his memory in February 1918. His name is recorded on the Fernhill School Honor Roll, the Inverell Honor Roll and the Cenotaph. In 1919 he was one of the men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade, Inverell.