LOOKING BACK - January 15 edition

Topsham Barracks, Exeter 1914
Topsham Barracks, Exeter 1914

Postcards from WWI

David Boult has given us this fascinating collection from WWI.

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The main picture shows his grandfather, Frank Draper, on the far right and his friend, John Blower, on the far left. David hopes readers will be able to name the other three recruits from the BTH , in the centre.

They all volunteered at Rugby at the start of the war in August 1914 and the photograph, sent as a postcard, is of them all training at Topsham Barracks in Exeter, with the Royal Field Artillery, before they received their uniforms.

David’s grandfather, 26 at the time, was injured in training and discharged in November 1914. John Blower, who was 24, was sent to France in August 1915 and killed in action on October 8, 1916 at the battle of Loos. He has no known grave, but his name is recorded on the BTH Memorial at Rugby.

The two men knew each other because before being Willans and BTH employees, they had both been ‘in service’ (live-in paid servants) at Dunsmore House in Clifton upon Dunsmore, when Colonel Little was the owner.

Frank Draper, the only Willans man of the five, wrote on the card: “Some of the Rugby Boys, 4 BTH & 1 Willans . This was taken before I was on the sick list. I don’t expect you will like these, I will have one taken in my clothes when I get them and you can have one of them. If I have the luck to be here next week, I am going to see the doctor in the morning Sat. I still feel effects of it still.

John William Blower wrote a postcard (signed Bill) to Frank in Rugby on November 1, 1915. One poignant line says: “Hope this finds you in the pink as it leaves me, at present we are not having a bad time considering the weather and circumstances. I shall be very glad when it is all over.” And sadly for him it would be less than 12 months later.