WW1 Signaller Percy Bosomworth Henderson (26617)

P B Henderson, Signaller (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19171018-40-26)

Percy was born in Blenheim on 23 May 1894 to Minnie Ann Henderson (nee Goertz) and John Henderson of Middleton Road, Remuera and 19 Wellington Street, Epsom.

John Henderson worked for the Post Office and after Percy’s birth was transferred to Tauranga as Chief Clerk, and later as Postmaster at Maketu, and died shortly afterwards. Minnie Henderson took charge of the Post Office. [1, 2]

Percy attended Maketu School where in 1909, he won a scholarship which enabled him to attend Auckland Grammar School. There he passed matriculation and the solicitors’ general knowledge examination in 1911 and subsequently attended Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland) gaining a law degree in 1916. He also worked for the solicitors, Johnston, Coates and Fee (now Johnston Prichard Fee). [3, 4]

During that time, Percy was a cadet in the Territorial Forces and in 1911, was appointed a Staff Sergeant Major in the Citizens Army for four years. [5]

After he graduated, Percy enlisted for war service as a Private. At Trentham, he received specialist training with the 18th Reinforcements Divisional Signallers. When he reached England on 3 April 1917, he was posted to 3rd Battalion Auckland Regiment, 16 Company. On 28 May 1917 he was posted to Battalion Headquarters in France.

On 13 June 1917, his unit was sent to the front-line trenches at Le Baizel, France where a German hand grenade exploded. Percy received multiple wounds to his face, his right eye, upper body and right thigh. He was transferred from France to hospital at Walton-on-Thames in England where he improved, but on 9th October 1917, he was classified as unfit for active service and returned to New Zealand where he received further medical treatment. On 16th April 1918 he was formally discharged from military service as ‘no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action’.

Percy resumed his law career and began practicing in Hamilton, where his married sister lived. On 22 April 1918 he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand by Justice Hosking on the application of Dr Harry Dean Bamford. [6]

On 15th November 1918 in Waikato Hospital, Percy, having survived the war, succumbed to influenza, and died, aged 24. Just two days later his sister also died from the disease. Percy is buried at Hamilton East Cemetery, Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton, Soldiers’ Area E4, Grave 248.

Percy Bosomworth Henderson (26627) was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Percy is remembered by an obituary by Geoff Adlam, in the New Zealand Law Society and the Lawyers Roll of Honour, in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 1 Hall of Memories and on the Auckland Council Orakei Local Board World War I Roll of Honour. [2, 7]

G Ralph
May 2020