Saturday, 25 April 2015

Captain Roger Francis Draper

Recently, Ancestry has begun to upload WWI War Diaries from The National Archives. 

I was very pleased to discover that the Ancestry collection includes the war diaries of my great grandfather's battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, which landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on the 6th August 1915. 

At the moment, the available diaries are not indexed by name, just by date, location, regiment and unit. So whilst reading through both versions of the diary (handwritten and typed) for the months of August and September, looking for references to my great grandfather, I kept an eye out for Captain Roger Francis Draper, of whom I wrote last year

All my previous research had led me to believe that Captain Draper was killed in action on the 22nd August 1915. However, according to the 6th Battalion's war diary, he died or was mortally wounded on the 21st August.

As I read over the entries, I realised that the confusion over dates might have occurred because the man responsible for compiling the diary, Captain and Adjutant VTR Ford was also wounded on the 21st August! As a result, Captain Ford had to write up his usual review of the day's events at a much later date than was usual.  

The handwritten copy was originally dated for the 22nd August but amended to read the 21st. It doesn't mention Captain Draper at all.  

It is the typed 'good' copy that references Captain Draper on the 21st August 1915. Probably because his name was added to the details given in the handwritten version, the diary is ambiguous as to whether he was killed outright or was severely wounded.

Perhaps this small discrepancy is only a minor point but it highlights the fact that official war diaries were written by men who were not just observing from the sidelines. Like many a useful genealogical resource, we need to bear in mind that these surviving original documents may be a second or even third 'good' copy, cobbled together from hastily scribbled notes, sometime after the event. 

© Emmy Eustace

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