Grandson's pilgrimage to honour Scampton pilot Granddad who died serving his country

Councillor Steve England and his son-in-law Jason Launders.
Councillor Steve England and his son-in-law Jason Launders.

A sunset ceremony at RAF Scampton was the perfect tribute to a former Hampden pilot, who died serving his country.

Jason Launders, aged 49, never met his grandfather, Pilot Officer, Harry Launders who died during the Second World War, 79 years ago.

Councillor Steve England, West Lindsey District Councils’ Chairman, invited Jason, who is his son-in-law, to join him at the RAF Scampton Annual Reception and Sunset Ceremony.

Jason, who grew up in the county, travelled over from Pennsylvania, where he currently lives, for the special occasion.

Jason said: “The hangar, in which we met, holds a very special place for my family as, back in 1940, the very same hangar was home to 83 Squadron in which my grandfather, served as a Hampden pilot. Sadly, like so many of his generation, he was killed on his return from a mission to Frankfurt on July 8, 1940 and is buried in Scampton village.

“My own father grew up without knowing his father and I was always felt I missed out a little in not having any grandfathers.

“Standing in a place where he must have once stood and trying to imagine what it was like is really the only connection I have with him. Despite the 79 years (almost to the day) the sunset service was a fitting tribute to those who served so selflessly in those desperate days.”

The event is held each year and was hosted by the Wing Commander James Parker, station commander at RAF Scampton.

Coun England said: “It was a very moving ceremony and it was lovely to watch the Red Arrows display on the evening.”