Francis Joseph Chapple was born on 8 August 1921 in Hoxton in east London (some sources say 1919). Chapple was a member of the Electricians Trade Union from 1935 (some sources say 1937) and the Communist Party from 1939, which he remained in for some twenty years.
During the Second World War, he served first in the Royal Ordnance Factories and then in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in France and Germany. During this period, he made contacts with the emerging German Communist Party and helped to run a Communist cell in the army education centre at Lubeck. In 1947 he and Leslie Cannon represented the ETU at the World Federation of Democratic Youth Festival.
A member of the Party’s national electrical advisory from 1949, he was first elected to the ETU Executive in 1958, shortly after which he was to leave the Party. He became intimately and notoriously involved with ferocious anti-communism thereafter. He supported the anti-communist candidate for the general secretaryship of the ETU, Jock Byrne, who was found by a High Court judgement to have been the genuine winner of a hard-fought election.
Chapple succeeded Byrne as general secretary in 1966. In 1968 the ETU merged with the Plumbers’ Trade Union to form the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (EEPTU). In 1970, the posts of president and general secretary were combined on the death of Leslie Cannon and the new powerful position held by Chapple who exercised an iron grip over his union, which increasingly became a hostile force in the labour movement. Chapple even personally broke with Labour to support the Social Democratic Party (SDP), formed in 1981. He retired as general secretary of EETPU in 1984, when he was appointed to the House of Lords as Lord Chapple of Hoxton and died at the age of 83, on 19th October 2004.
Main source: Frank Chapple `Sparks Fly’
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