Raimund Sanders Draper
Raimund Sanders Draper
|Born||27 December 1913
|Died||24 March 1943 (age 29)
Hornchurch, Essex, England
Cause of death
|St. Andrew's Church cemetery, Hornchurch|
|Monuments||The Sanders School and Specialist Science College|
|Organization||No. 64 Squadron|
|Spouse(s)||Marcia Anne Myers Tucker|
|Parent(s)||Muriel and Paul Draper|
|Relatives||Paul Draper brother,
Ruth Draper aunt
Flying Officer Raimund Sanders Draper saved the lives of 650 students plus faculty in Sutton School in Hornchurch, Essex when his Spitfire plane's engine died and the plane went into a spin short of the nearby airfield on 24 March 1943 during the Second World War. He deliberately crashed the plane to avoid hitting the school. To do this, he did not jump from his plane, but was killed in the crash. The school was renamed in his honor to Sanders Draper School in 1973 on the 30th anniversary of the crash, until 2014, when the school was renamed again, to Sanders School. Draper was an American serving as a Spitfire pilot in the RAF.
Flying Officer Raimund Sanders Draper, known as "Smudge", was an American volunteer World War II Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot of No. 64 Squadron. He deliberately crashed his Spitfire aircraft, in order to avoid hitting a school, after losing control on take-off from RAF Hornchurch, and was killed.
The plane's engine cut out at an estimated altitude of 200 feet (61 m) and the plane went into a spin. As the plane headed for Suttons School, just 530 yards (480 m) from the airfield perimeter, Draper put the nose down and forced the aircraft into the ground short of the main building. The aircraft bounced and a wing stuck the building.
Only one student, 13-year-old Richard (Dick) Barton (sometimes Barten,) was injured, with 5 other students treated for minor shock.
One of the students who witnessed the accident recalled:
At 10.45 am an aircraft crashed on the playing field, the main parts being ricocheted onto the drive, fragments breaking a total of 9 windows in three classrooms. Splinters from the 'plane scored the wall and injured the playing field and shrubbery. Richard Burton received a cut on the leg from flying glass needing medical attention and five boys were treated from primary shock. The boy with the injured leg was conveyed to his home by ambulance, under Dr. Heath's orders. School was evacuated to shelter for 15 minutes owing to probability of danger from fire and exploding ammunition. By 11.15 am the school had resumed normal work.
Remembrance by students
An annual memorial service is held at his grave by men who were pupils at the school at the time of his death. Services at St Andrew's church, where the American pilot was buried, were begun by a group of the students from that time, in the 1980s. The last service was on the 70th anniversary, due to the age of the participants. They recall that the school had 650 students at the time of the crash.
School renamed in pilot's honor
In 1973 the school was renamed The Sanders Draper School and Specialist Science College in his honour and then changed in 2014 to Sanders School. A plaque on the building marks the point of impact and the schools's badge incorporates a Spitfire. There was dissension in response to the name change in 2014.
Personal life and family
Sanders Draper was American, but born in London, England. He died age 29, on 24 March 1943 when he crashed his plane. His birth date is shown as 27 December 1913 on the Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate, which he received from the Airwork School of Flying on 16 June 1936 in Great Britain. He lived mainly in Manhattan, New York, in the USA. He was the younger son of American interior decorator, writer, and hostess Muriel Draper, the wife of a socially prominent lieder singer, Paul Draper. His parents married in 1909 in New York, then travelled in Europe; his father died in 1925 at age 38. His biological father was reputedly the pianist Artur Rubinstein. His father's sister was actress Ruth Draper while one uncle, George Draper, a prominent doctor, was married to American interior decorator Dorothy Draper. His older brother was Paul Draper, a noted dancer and actor. In 1940, Sanders, Paul and their mother Muriel lived in New York City, per the 1940 US Census, National Archives and Records Administration.
- "The Spitfire: Britain's Flying past". 2011-09-22.[dead link]
- "Brief History of Sanders School". Sanders School. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- Ali, Safira (June 23, 2013). "Raimund Sanders Drapers’ family to visit school he sacrificed his life for on 75th anniversary". The Romford Recorder. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
Painting 'Selfless Hero' by Barry Weekley, to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the pilot's death
- Sanders Draper History[dead link]
- Weinfass, Ian (March 21, 2013). "70th anniversary is final commemoration of the life of Raimund Sanders Draper, hero who died in Hornchurch". Romford Recorder. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
Two of the survivors from inside the school – Ken Finding and Jim Ring – decided to form the Suttons-Sanders Draper World War II Schoolboys Association. The group has organised an annual memorial service to the hero pilot at St Andrew’s Church, in High Street, Hornchurch, where he is buried. . . . Jim explained the reasons for the services coming to an end: “It’s the 70th anniversary and I’m disabled myself,” he said. “We’re losing more and more members. We started with about 70 members, now down to 35 or so.
- "Senior and secondary schools founded before 1945". A History of the County of Essex 7. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- Edmonds, Lizzie (April 12, 2014). "Anger as school named after heroic Spitfire pilot who sacrificed himself to save hundreds of its pupils changes its name". Daily Mail. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- Draper, Ruth; Warren, Dorothy (1999-11-03). The letters of Ruth Draper: self-portrait of an actress, 1920-1956. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2188-9.
- Wintz, Cary D.; Finkelman, Paul, eds. (2004). Draper, Muriel. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance: A-J (New York: Taylor & Francis Books). Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- Sachs, Harvey; Manildi, Donald (1995). Rubinstein: A Life. Grove Press. p. 177.