Henderson, Gordon

Date of birth:
March 7th, 1913 (Cessnock, Australia)
Date of death:
June 25th, 1943 (Haasrode, Belgium)
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Graves Haasrode
Service number:
42327
Nationality:
New Zealander (1907-1947, Dominion UK)

Biography

Flight Sergeant Gordon Henderson was born at Cessnock, New South Wales, Australia, on the 7th of March 1913. He was a member of the crew of Stirling Bomber BK813 on a bombing raid over the city of Wuppertal in Germany departing West Wickham Airbase on the 24th June 1943 at 2332 hours. BK813 was shot down over Belgium by the German night-fighter Kollak Reinhard at 0139 hours on the 25th June. Six of the seven crew members died in the crash. They were all buried in the Haasrode Churchyard Cemetery in Belgium. Other crew members were Flt. Sgt. (Pilot) Walter Henry Teede RAAF age 29, Sgt. (Air Bomber) Aubrey Charles Harris RAF age 30, Sgt. (Nav.) Hyman Levine RAF age 30, Flt. Sgt (W.Op) Leo Peterson age 22, Sgt (Air Gunner) Patrick James Taylor RAF age 26, and Flt. Sgt. (Flt. Engr) Edward Henry Stanton RAF who baled out and was aided by the local Resistance and after being taken to Bree, he was helped as far as Paris but was arrested by the Germans and held at the Fresnes prison before being sent to Germany and a POW camp.

Flt Sgt. Henderson was one of seven children born to Australian Parents, Charles and Agnes Henderson (Phee) who lived in Cessnock. He moved to New Zealand with his parents and at age twelve attended secondary school at the Rotorua High School in 1925. He returned to Australia and completed an Engineering course at the Newcastle Technical College. He undertook an Engineering apprenticeship at Walsh Island Government Dockyards from 1926 to 1930. He then moved back to New Zealand in 1930 with his parents. He ran a milk run in Rotorua with a friend Ray Spence, sold radios and washing machines with his Father, and went farming for a while with friends Percy and Ailsa Newton. He was a keen rugby player, golfer, played tennis and was a strong swimmer.

On 19th September 1936, he married Gwyneth Babette (Betty) Frogley in Auckland, New Zealand and joined the Army but a bad reaction to injections saw him medically discharged. They lived at 4 Eruera Street in Rotorua where his family had settled after migrating from Australia. Their daughter, Janice Esmae Henderson, was born on the 17th of April 1937.

As he had left school early, he attended night school at Cambridge NZ (near Hamilton) and obtained his school certificate. He also had his own business as a haulage contractor in Rotorua. He was interested in flying and had completed 35 hours of flying as a pupil of the Rotorua Flying Club.

Flt. Sgt. Henderson was enlisted at the Initial Training Wing, Levin, New Zealand on the 25th January 1942 and embarked for Canada on the 2nd of March 1942, on the Empire Air Training scheme.

He arrived in Canada early in April and on the 12th of that month, was posted to No. 3 wireless school, Winnipeg, Manitoba. In early August 1942 his wireless training ended and he was posted to the Composite Training School and re-mustered to Air Gunner. He arrived at No. 3 Bombing and Gunner school, MacDonald, Manitoba and on the 25th of September was awarded the Air Gunners Badge and promoted to Sergeant.

On the 3rd of October, 1942 he proceeded to No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia for embarkation to the United Kingdom. He arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth late October 1942 and on the 16th of November was posted posted to No. 11 Operational Training Unit at Westcott, where he crewed up and completed his training as Air Gunner on Wellington Bomber Aircraft. .

On the 4th of March, 1943, he proceeded to No. 1657 Conversion unit, Stradishell, Suffolk for conversion to Stirling Bomber Aircraft and on the 15th of April was posted to No. 90 Squadron, West Wickham, Cambridge. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on the 1st of June, 1943.

With Squadron 90, he took part in 11 operational flights the targets including Dortmund (2), Duisberg, Dusseldorf (2), Wuppertel, Krefeld, Mulheim in Germany, and Le Creusot in France, and one mine-laying operation in enemy waters.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With "Bomber Command" clasp.
1939-1945 Star

Sources

  • - Bruce Orbell (nephew)

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