Raimund Sanders Draper

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Flying Officer
Raimund Sanders Draper
Born 1914
Died 24 March 1943 (age 29)
Hornchurch, Essex, England
Cause of death
Aircraft crash
Resting place
Monuments The Sanders Draper School and Specialist Science College
Nationality American
Occupation Fighter pilot
Employer RAF
Organization No. 64 Squadron
Known for Self-sacrifice

Flying Officer Raimund Sanders Draper (born London, England, 1914;[1] died age 29, 24 March 1943), 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.[2]

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,[3] 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.[2]

Only one student, 13 year old Richard (Dick) Burton (sometimes Barten,[3]) was injured, with 5 other students treated for minor shock.

One of the students who witnessed the accident recalled:[4]

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.

In 1973 the school was renamed Sanders Draper School in his honour.[5] A plaque on the building marks the point of impact and the schools's badge incorporates a Spitfire. An annual memorial service is held at his grave by men who were pupils at the school at the time of his death.[2]


He was the younger son of American interior decorator, writer, and hostess Muriel Draper, the wife of a socially prominent leider singer, Paul Draper; his biological father was reputedly the pianist Artur Rubinstein.[6] His father's sister was actress Ruth Draper while one uncle, George Draper, a prominent doctor, was married to American interior decorator Dorothy Draper.[1] His brother was Paul Draper, a noted dancer and actor.

In 1934 he married Marcia Anne Myers Tucker (later Mrs Charles Carroll Fulton Bagley).[1] Later divorced, they had one daughter, Marcia Anne Draper.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Draper, Ruth; Dorothy Warren (1999-11-03). The letters of Ruth Draper: self-portrait of an actress, 1920-1956. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2188-9. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Spitfire: Britain's Flying past". 2011-09-22. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0153yb6/The_Spitfire_Britains_Flying_Past/.
  3. ^ a b "Brief History of Sanders Draper". Sanders Draper School. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Sanders Draper History
  5. ^ A History of the County of Essex: Volume 7
  6. ^ Harvey Sachs, Donald Manildi, Rubinstein: A Life (Grove Press, 1995), p. 177

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