Poppy Field Banner for Draycot.com
Home   |   The 4 Media   |   The Narrating 'I'   |   Biography   |   Memoir & Sketches   |   Sketches vs Photo   |   Diaries & Photos   |   Final Remarks
Sketch vs Photo - The 3 Battles   |   Ypres   |   Ypres - Part 2   |   Ypres - Part 3   |   The Somme   |   Vimy Ridge   |   Vimy Ridge - Part 2

Ypres - Part Three

At the time of drawing the sketch on the previous page, it is unlikely that Draycot had any idea that his work might be included in a book, let alone in one by as eminent an officer/writer as Lord Beaverbrook. The narrating ‘I of the memoir, however, records the following comment: ‘So two men had to risk their life to appease a “gallant” Knight in London! for what? for his book Canada in Flanders'.xvii The memoir confirms that the sketch was presented to Sir Max Aitken. It was, however, as already established, never published. The narrator remarks:
Sir Max got his sketch. He probably never knew who did it for him, nor the danger incurred in getting it. A little out of the ordinary for a civilian to be so favoured! – don’t you think? A copy was also made for General Macdonnel – who thanked me!.xviii
The bitterness towards men of title that permeates the memoir is extra powerful here and reinforced by the contrast between military and civilian.xix As his memoir records, Draycot produced maps and sketches throughout the war but felt growing frustration as his workload increased: ‘The Canadian Division calls for tracings of maps made by me. Why the devil don’t they send their own polished boots, extra paid, draughtsmen into the trenches to get the information? Why harass a one-man Brigade Office?’.xx The work was endless because enemy damage necessitated a constant supply of new sketches and maps.

Sketch of Ramparts and Moat at Ypres - click to enlarge Sketch of Ypres Ramparts - printed version - click to enlarge

As enemy bombardment increased, it was also necessary to produce sketches using different perspectives: ‘[E]very angle of rifle fire taken by the enemy had to be considered, enfilading and such. Perspective and sectional view’.xxi Draycot even found himself compiling reports on ‘the condition of ... projected trenches. Strictly, this is an Engineers [sic] job. Not mine, but – orders’.xxii The narrated ‘I’ of the memoir is thus a sketcher, artist, tracer and engineer. All these qualities are evident in the sketches themselves, particularly those that were touched up for sale after the war. The text under the above, touched-up sketch reads:
PART OF THE RUINS of houses and of St. Peter’s Church in the City can be seen on the other side of the Rampart walls. The Ramparts and Moat were built during the 16th century, having withstood many an assault. It will be noticed that they are pitted and broken by shells of large calibre. They stand about 20 to 25 feet in height, being 15 feet thick at the top, brick being used for their construction. Following the Sally Port Bridge from near the bank of the Moat, we land on a parcel of land at the foot of the Rampart walls and, turning to the left, enter the Sally Port and proceed through a long tunnel which brings us within the City. Two swans with their two cygnets are seen on the Moat going towards the left in the sketch [as seen in the repeated image below]. These were mentioned in Headquarters despatches! A swan at Ypres gave birth to two cygnets, all doing well. Large trees will be noticed growing on the Rampart walls, but many have fallen victims to German shellfire.
The tone and style of the above text are literary. They tell a story that has a past and in which specific events, major and minor, take place. Attention is paid to punctuation. Swans and cygnets - click to enlarge The capitalisation of the first four words suggests the beginning of a new chapter. There is an underlying sense of humour, as witnessed in the comment about the disappearance of the swans (discussed earlier). Draycot clearly did not expect the reader to notice details of battle damage or be able to estimate the height, thickness and construction of the walls. The narrator is an experienced sketcher who has a clear idea of what to expect of his reader. At the same time, the attention to detail in the original sketch (above) complies with the formal criteria for a military sketch: gaps in the foliage are made clear, the shapes and number of branches on the trees are clearly delineated, and the construction of the wooden bridge indicates what kind of surface to expect as well as the angle of the planking. The only difference between the original and the touched-up version is the degree of shading, which is for artistic effect only.

Blueprints of ramparts Ypres - click to enlarge Some of the most important sketches from a military point of view were reproduced using blueprints, such as the one to the right. In the section on Vimy Ridge in the memoir, Draycot notes that plans to be blueprinted needed to be of a particularly fine quality.xxiii Some were made on linen, which, as already pointed out, was very durable and also waterproof. They were particularly useful in waterlogged trenches.

xvii Draycot, Walter MacKay. ‘Pawn No. 883. Being the Adventures of a Pawn of War in the Affair of 1914-18. Recollections of My Activities during the First World War, 1914-1918.’ Unpublished memoir. North Vancouver Museum & Archives' (1938), 121.
xviii Ibid., 121.
xix Ibid., 121.
xx Ibid., 122.
xxi Ibid., 124.
xxii Ibid., 124.
xxiii Ibid., 171.

Next: The Somme
Optimized for 1024 x 768
Mozilla Firefox and IE
  Teri Schamp-Bjerede
Copyright 2011-2018 - all rights reserved www.walterdraycot.com
Jane M. Ekstam
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!