Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade.

Died 18th August 1916, age 22.

Buried in Delville Wood Cemetery, France.

Former student of science.

Henderson-uni-mag henderson-hulme-hall-mag


James was born in India in 1894 where his father, the Rev. James Henderson, was serving with the Church of Scotland in Bombay. Educated at Portsmouth Grammar School, James had ambitions to work with the Indian Forest Service. He entered Hulme Hall in October 1912 having been awarded a place at the university to study for a Science degree. A keen sportsman, James represented Hulme Hall in the inter-hall matches in swimming and tug-of-war. During the 1913/14 season he was a regular member of the University 2nd XV rugby team and made several appearances for the 1st XV.

A member of the University OTC, James was attending the annual summer camp when war broke out. The death of his friend, and fellow Hulme Hall resident, Wilfred Trevelyan on 5 May 1915 near Ypres would have hit James hard. James and Wilfred had joined the 5th Battalion Rifle Brigade at the same time and had both been posted overseas to the 4th Battalion only a few weeks before Wilfred’s death. On 8 May, only three days after Wilfred was killed, James escaped a similar fate when defending his position against an enemy onslaught. In an engagement that was later to be known as the Battle of Frezenberg, James and 60 of his men fought alongside soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, holding back at least three separate waves of German attacks. Only four of his men were able to march out of the trenches with James at the end of the engagement. It was for his actions on this day that he was to be later awarded the Military Cross.

The following month James spent a week in hospital having contracted German Measles and in August he was wounded for the first time when struck by a ricochet bullet in his left hip whilst in front line trenches near Bois Grenier. Upon recovery, James was posted to the 3rd Battalion in November 1915. Only two months later, in January 1916 he was wounded for a second time whilst operating in the front line trenches, this time being hit in the face by a shell fragment. In the same month, James would learn that he had been awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in Sir John French’s Dispatches. It took a further four months for James to recover significantly enough to be considered fit for active service. During his rehabilitation he spent several days at Hulme Hall and also wrote to the War Office to enquire whether he was entitled to a gratuity payment for his injuries. His claim was rejected as the wounds were not considered to cause permanent disfigurement.

In June 1916, James rejoined the 3rd Battalion as they prepared for the Somme Offensive. In July, he would have received news that he had been awarded a degree in absentia. On 18 August, the Battalion were involved in an attack on the village of Guillemont, during which James was killed. He was buried the next day by his colleagues, on what should have been his 22nd birthday.

James distinguished himself greatly during the attacks of 18 August, capturing a German machine gun single handed, and taking its Officer prisoner. His Colonel wrote that had Henderson lived, he would have sent his name to HQ for further honours.

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