Percy Draper was born in Bootle, Lancashire, England on the 17 October 1885, the son of Alfred and Christina Scott Draper. Alfred Draper was a bookkeeper, and later a cargo superintendent, which suggest he worked for shipping companies.
On the 14 October 1913, he married Annie Elizabeth Zinck in Liverpool, and in 1915 they resided at 4 Bedford Road, Liscard, Wallasey, Cheshire.
Percy signed on board the Lusitania in the Deck Department, as Second Purser, at Liverpool on 16th May 1915 for what would be the Cunarder’s final voyage, at a monthly rate of pay of £5-1-s-0d (£5.50). He reported for duty the following day at 7 am and was on board when the Lusitania left the River Mersey for the last time ever. His previous ship had been the Cunarder
He survived the sinking although he suffered in the ordeal. Second Cabin passenger Mrs. Ellen Hogg in an interview published in
The St. Helens Reporter in the edition of 11th May 1915, related:
“At last we got away from it all and then we came across a boat in which were two men, one of whom was bailing the water out. Some of us got into the boat. I was the first to be put into it and the assistant purser got in with us. Blood and froth were pouring out of his mouth, and he told me he had gone under with the Lusitania and come up again by the greatest of fortune.”
It is most likely that Mrs Hogg was referring to Second Purser Draper in view of the fact that Assistant Purser William Harkness is known to have jumped into a lifeboat with an infant survivor, without touching the sea.
Draper was one of only two officers from the pursers section to survive, the other being Assistant Purser W. H. Harkness. The Purser, J.A. McCubbin, his other Assistant Purser, A.H. Burden, and his three Junior Assistant Pursers, G.W. Beesley, A.H. Harrod and L.H. Sloane were all killed.
Percy continued to serve as a purser in the mercantile for many years after his ordeal and he died in Liverpool in 1953, aged 68 years.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, St. Helens Reporter, Wallasey News, PRO BT 350.