01 March 2012

Americans remembered locally

Romford is part of the London Borough of Havering and has been since the 1960s when it was removed from the County of Essex to form part of Greater London. Most of the local schools have names relevant to their locality (Wykeham, Royal Liberty and so on and so forth) or, if catholic, after saints (my own school was named after Edmund Campion a Jesuit priest executed in Elizabethan England).

Two schools, however, have names with distinct American connections. A primary (elementary) school in Crhnham is named after James Oglethorpe, the founder of the state of Georgia. He lived in Cranham and is buried in the local church.

In 1973 the Secondary school (ages 11-18) Suttons was renamed Sanders Draper to commemorate an act of bravery and sacrifice.  Raimund Sanders Draper was born in 1914 to a wealthy American family. While the USA was still neutral he came to the UK to join the Royal Air Force and was commissioned as an Officer in September 1941. After serving in various locations as a fighter pilot his squadron moved to RAF Hornchurch in March 1943. RAF Hornchurch was an important fighter station. Its squadrons had fought with distinction during the Battle of Britain. Suttons School was located next to the station’s perimeter

On 26 March Sanders Draper took off from RAF Hornchurch. Whilst approaching the school, his engine failed. He had the decision of baling out and to let the aircraft hit the school or to save the school by staying with the stricken aircraft . He chose the latter and fortunately missed the school. However in the following crash and explosion, Sanders Draper was tragically killed.. The School is thus named in honour of a man who in the circumstances did the right thing although the choice was fatal



A play called “the Good Intent”(the name of a local pub frequented by the pilots. It still exists). It was performed at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch in 2003. The following link contains recollections from people who were children at the school on the fateful day.

9 comments:

susan said...

This was very interesting - so many who died are unremembered.

I wanted to go and read the stories at the link but it just returned to the post.

Maybe next time, eh?

susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jams o donnell said...

Thanks I'll check the link. Sorry about that

nursemyra said...

He deserves to be remembered, nice idea to name the school after him

jams o donnell said...

It certainly was a fine gesture

Kay Dennison said...

Thank you!!!

jams o donnell said...

You're welcome Kay

Liz said...

Worthy of the tribute.

jams o donnell said...

Definitely!