Now normally as you know I do not do more than one post a day! In fact i have been pretty bad at posting lately, all that will change I promise.
Well as you may be aware it is Remembrance today, officially the end of the Great War in 1918 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At first this may seem a strange post to add onto Charlie's London, but as you all know I do try to keep this blog as personal as possible and what better way to do it than talk to you all about another South Londoner and one who's story remained untold for nearly a century.
Nearly three years ago I was asked by a work colleague of mine to help with some family research, it turned out that Tommy had found a family relative had died in the Great War and no one had any information on him whatsoever. Tommy stumbled across the information purely by accident too! His son had been looking over the information on the database for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and had found a Private James Raper S/R200 who had died in Cambrai 1917 and had no known grave. Of course there are many Raper's out there and at first it could have easily been disregarded as a mere coincidence, until his son dug deeper.
James was the oldest son of Thomas and Louisa Raper; husband of Elizabeth Raper, of 35, Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich, London. This address still belonged to the Raper family, Tommy had himself remembered playing in the garden of the house. Knowing a fair bit about the Great War and knowing what to look up through my own research avenues I set to work. Soon I found out that James was a royal Fusilier, the same regiment based at the Tower of London, my place of employment. He had died during the first tank battle of the conflict. No one knew how it had happened or where his final resting place now was. As I searched the archives it became clear that no one had ever claimed James' three victory medals and because of this a split had torn the family apart. Elizabeth had wanted the medals but James' father had refused them, being the next of kin he had the final say and not Elizabeth, causing her immense heartache till the day she died. This was the whole reason Tommy had never heard of James.
After over a years tracing the Raper family tree I established that Tommy was the oldest surviving relative of James' still alive and therefore the only person with any rights to his medals. on November 11th 2011 Tommy Raper wore his great great uncle's medals at the cenotaph in London as he bugled the Last Post. We may never know where he is buried, and the tragic circumstances of his death may forever remain a mystery, but at least now a part of him is back where it should be. The pride of his everlasting sacrifice with the family now who are thankful to have his memory with them!