Hornchurch memorial for selfless hero

THE selfless actions of a brave fighter pilot killed during World War Two were marked with a special ceremony at the spot where he died.

Flying officer Raimund Sanders Draper was forced to crash land his spitfire after suffering engine failure during take-off on March 24, 1943.

Flying officer Draper managed to avoid Suttons School buildings where children were studying and crashed and died in the playing field nearby.

For the first time, the annual celebration, attended by three former pupils who were there on the day of the tragedy were joined cadets from 452 (Hornchurch) Squadron ATC.

Wreathes were laid and a banner unfurled and the occasion was marked with two minutes silence.

Cadet instructor Mark Bryant said: “I explained the story to the cadets before.

Obviously Flying Officer Draper made what is the ultimate sacrifice to save children and it’s important to remember that.

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“At the luncheon afterwards everyone said how good it was that the cadets were there and we plan to go next year, which is on March 25.”

In recognition of the sacrifice the school was renamed in his honour and both past and present pupils of Suttons Sanders Draper School attended the service on Sunday (March 27).

Three 81-year-old former pupils, David Seaman, originally of Elm Park, Joe Pittman, of Gidea Park, and James Ring, of Upminster, attended the event.

Mr Ring said: “We greatly appreciated the presence of the Hornchurch air cadets at the ceremony and that they had added to the solemnity of the occasion.”

452 (Hornchurch) Squadron parades at its Tyrells Close headquarters in Upminster on Monday and Thursday evenings and invites youngsters aged 13 and over who interested activities such as flying, gliding and target shooting to get in touch.

Contact the cadets on 01708 250320