Henderson A G

Corporal 17100 Andrew George Henderson , 2nd Field Coy Royal Engineers


Died of wounds 18th March, 1916

Andrew George Henderson was born at Whitley Lower in the Dewsbury registration district in 1889.  He was the son of George Henderson and Rose Ann Chalk who had married in Alne, York, on 10th December, 1887.

George Henderson, Andrew's father, was born in 1866 in Edinburgh, but he seems to have had an adventurous spirit, because at the age of 14 we find him in the 1881 census as a Private in the Royal Marines aboard HMS Neptune at Devonport!  George switched careers, however, and ten years later he was married with two young sons, Andrew and Stanley, living in Harewood Village near Wetherby as a police constable. George’s wife, Rose Ann, had been born in Durley Hampshire in 1862, and just how the couple came to meet and marry in the north of England is at present unknown.

By the time Andrew was 12, his father had been promoted to sergeant, and they were living in Dringhouses near Bishopthorpe.  There were now five in the family, as a daughter, Margaret (9), appears together with Andrew and Stanley in the census return of 1901.

The 1911 Census finds George (still sergeant of police) and his wife Rose Ann  living in College Square in Stokesley with their daughter Margaret, and it appears there were other children born to marriage who did not survive as George records that he and Rose Ann had then been married for 23 years and had three living children and three who had died.  However, the two sons had by then left the parental home.  

Perhaps the sons inherited the father's spirit of adventure. We have it on the authority of the Book of Remembrance that Stanley emigrated to New Zealand, but Andrew had enlisted in the Royal Engineers at York on 21st January, 1908.  His military records are very full, and tell us that at that time Andrew Henderson and his family were living in Acomb.  Andrew was not quite 5’ 7’’ tall and 117 lbs in weight; he had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.  He also had two small circular scars on the right side of his abdomen.

We are fortunate enough to have the evidence of a character witness, Andrew's former employer Mr T Rhodes of Huntington near York, who wrote a reference in support of Andrew on New Year’s Eve, 1907. He reported that Andrew:

“was thoroughly punctual, industrious, honest and perfectly sober” and had “always been a credit to himself and to me”

Andrew George Henderson underwent aptitude tests on enlisting and a preliminary report termed him a ‘fair’ joiner, but when he was properly examined at the SME workshop at Chatham on 5th February 1908 he was rated as ‘skilled’. He was also a good soldier, and on 7th August 1909 he was described as ‘a first class shot’

Private Henderson was sent with his regiment to Egypt and was in Cairo in 1911; by the end of July 1913 (having completed a joinery test piece in the form of an officer’s cupboard) he had been awarded ‘First Class Pay’, a rise of 4d a day - from one shilling and eight pence to two shillings!  

While still in Egypt in the following year, Andrew applied to extend his six year service.  He was given an exemplary character by his commanding officer, who reported that he was
‘smart, intelligent, hard-working and reliable’.  

When the Great War broke out, Andrew was still in Egypt, and on 22nd August, 1914 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.  

It seems that Andrew came home on leave briefly, possibly after his regiment was transferred from Egypt to the Western Front between August and November 1914, but the index to his medal awards tells us that he entered active service in France on 5th November, 1914.  

Whilst serving on the Western Front, Lance Corporal Henderson was present at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (March 1915) and was promoted to Acting Corporal on 1st September. He served in this capacity at the Battle of Loos (September, 1915). During this battle, Corporal Henderson ‘did splendid work,’ as six months later his officer wrote in a letter of condolence to his parents.

“I considered him my best NCO; he was recommended first in the section for the next honour to be given… and  he had no regard for himself when he could help others… the night before last I was out with him, and he was the first to reach a man wounded… by a machine gun.  He was a great soldier, true and good to his country” 

Corporal Andrew George Henderson was wounded on the night of 17th March 1916, and died the following day.  He was 27 years old when he fell, and was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914 Star, for which his father signed on 3rd February, 1920.  Corporal Henderson's body lies in plot I C 61 of the Sailly-sur-la-Lys Canadian Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

His name also appears on the Middlesbrough War Memorial at the main entrance to Albert Park.

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