Percy Smedley Draper

First Name: 
Middle Name: 
Last Name: 
Date of Birth: 
Sunday, December 11, 1881
Mother's Name: 
Mary Jane Draper (nee Hincks)
Father's Name: 
Frederick William Draper
Date Enlisted: 
Tuesday, April 27, 1915
Rank at Enlistment: 
Lance Corporal
4th Battalion
6th Reinforcement
British War Medal
Star 1914/15 Medal
Victory Medal
Date of Death: 
Sunday, August 6, 1916
Place of Death: 
Cause of Death: 
Killed in action

Percy Smedley Draper (Service No 2279) was born on 11 December 1881 in Clifton to Frederick William Draper and Mary Jane Hincks (nee). He was the oldest surviving son of ten children. The family had moved to Clifton in early December just before Percy was born; his grandfather, Frederick William Draper Snr was also a resident at Clifton. His grandmother, Elizabeth Draper (nee Smedley) had died in 1868 at Maitland, NSW.

Percy had a number of occupations prior to the war. He married Ellen Laydon (December 1910) and on the certificate he was listed as a labourer whereas his enlistment records state that he was a butcher by that time. He has been linked to a number of other occupations such as: lay preacher, lieutenant in charge of the Commonwealth Cadets in Clifton, the secretary of the School of Arts Committee in Clifton and a carter.

Percy enlisted in the AIF 4th Battalion on 27 April 1915 at Liverpool and he embarked from Sydney on HMAS A63 ‘Karoola on 16 June, 1915. He was 33 years of age and had three children by that stage.

He sent a postcard to his family from the British camp at Heliopolis.

To Dear Aunt and all

Just a line to let you know I am alright and hope you are the same. This is a nice town and very nice buildings. I was told the place is only 8 years old. It is very warm here but not too bad at night, especially in the early morning. Have met one or two that I know from other parts. We arrived on Sunday night July 29 about 12pm. Had a fine trip over after leaving Fremantle for a couple of days. We disembarked at Suez Canal and came up here by train about 7.15, 8hr trip.

Love to all
P.S Draper [1]

Percy arrived in Gallipoli on 4 August 1915. The 4th battalion were involved in the battle of Lone Pine which resulted in over 2000 men killed. Percy was reported missing in action, then later found to have been killed in action on August 6.

His Battalion lost 15 out of 20 officers and 459 out of 722 men of other ranks in the battle.

He was initially reported as missing but on 16 April 1916 he was acknowledged as, “previously reported missing, now pronounced killed in action.” Percy is commemorated at the Lone Pine Cemetery at Gallipoli, No. 6 Memorial as well as the Coalcliff-Scarborough-Clifton Honour roll located at Scarborough Public School.

A letter dated 30 April 1936 was sent from Percy’s brother, Lawrence “Lock” Draper to his sister Emmeline Thorn (nee Draper).

Dear Em

Just a line to say I am well, and I hope and trust you are all well at Clifton… The reason I am writing is to say I’ve just returned from Gallipoli after visiting the battle-grounds of the Anzac’s and their graveyards. We took Colonel Hughes the President of War graves Commission with us and on the way over I got him to look up the records of the graves. I’ve located our Brothers and it’s in No. 1 Lone Pine and I’ve marked it on photograph. There are still 3861 unknown graves on Lone Pine Em. I never got such a shock in all my life as I got where I saw Anzac Cove and Quinns Posts and other places which I’ll try to explain further on in my letter. Firstly, no artist can paint, no photo can show, nor no book that is written or ever will be written can describe Gallipoli…

There is no known grave for Percy.

Thanks to the relatives of Percy Smedley Draper who shared his story and remaining memorabilia with Illawarra Remembers.

Austin R, The Fighting Fourth: A History of Sydney’s 4th Battalion 1914-19, Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae Australia, 2007, p. 65.

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