51024 Private Ernest Draper -  Wellington Infantry Regiment

The Draper family are a long established, Pauatahanui family purchasing land in Judgeford in 1858.[i]  

Edward. a son of the original settler, married Mary Nash in 1876 and the couple had 11 children.

Ernest Draper was born 1882 the fifth child and fourth son in Edward and Mary’s family of six boys and five girls.
The family was raised on a farm in Judgeford and Ernest was enrolled at the Judgeford School in 1882.

The Draper family was living in Judgeford in 1913 when Ernest’s older sister Elizabeth was married in St Joseph’s Church, Pauatahanui with the Wedding Breakfast held at her mother’s residence in Judgeford. [ii]

By 1917 Mrs Mary Draper had moved to Colombo Street, Palmerston North and her son Ernest gave this as his address when he entered Military camp with the 27th Reinforcements.  51024 Private Draper was passed as B fit but the medical examination noted that he was - ​‘Poor physique wants building up’

51024 Private Draper departed New Zealand on the 9th June 1917 in B Company, 26th  Reinforcements for the Wellington Infantry Regiment. On arrival in England Private Draper trained in Sling Camp. On 27th October 1917 he was sent to France where he was  posted to 17th Ruahine Company of the 1st Wellington Regiment.  The New Zealand Division, of which the Wellington Regiment was part, was in the rear training areas after the heavy losses incurred during the Battle of Passchendael.

Private Draper served with the 17th Company until the end of the war apart from a one month attachment, in Christmas 1917, to the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company.

Private Draper returned to New Zealand in June 1919 and was discharged from the NZEF on the 23rd July 1919 ‘on the termination of engagement.’[iii]

Wellington’s Evening Post on the 2nd August 1919 carried a article on the ‘social’ held at Pauatahanui to celebrate the return on eight World War One veterans to the district. Private Draper was one of the men presented with a gold chain and maltese cross[iv]

‘ Eight residents of the Pahautanui district who saw service in the war –
Gunner F. Attwood, Trooper J Barber, Private E Draper, Gunner A Greig,
Private H Harris, Private N Olsen, Private A Sims (MM), and Fitter A Trevor
 – were guests at a “social” held at Pahautanui last night. During the evening,
Mr. R. A. Wright, M.P. for Wellington Suburbs, on behalf of those present,
Handed to each man a gold albert chain and maltese cross suitably Inscribed.
Mr W. H. Feild, M.P. for Otaki, replied on behalf of the soldiers, and the rest of
the evening was spent in dancing music being provided by Mr. E. J. King and
Mr W. C. Tanner.’

It appears that Ernest returned to Palmerston North initially but then moved
to Pauatahanui where he married Molly Bella Lynch in 1922.

Ernest Draper died in Porirua in 1927 and his Victory Medal was sent, in 1929,
to his widow in Lower Hutt. Ernest Draper is buried in the Returned Servicemen’s
area of Karori Cemetery, Wellington.

Grave in Karori Cemetery 

The final note on his military papers was that he had died since discharge but
that the death was not war related[v].  

Pauatahanui – A local history: Helen Reilly
Paperspast Online
NZ BDM Online
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 51024 Private Ernest Draper
Pauatahanui and Judgeford School Rolls

Private Ernest Draper’s grave: Online Cenotaph, Auckland War Memorial Museum

[i] Pauatahanui – a local history
[ii] Weddings, 5th April 1913, Evening Post.
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files:
[iv] Pahautanui News, 2nd August 1919, Evening Post
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 51024 Private Ernest Draper
 Grave of Private Ernest Draper