2nd Lieutenant Donald Henderson was the eldest child of James and Annette (Ne Johnston) who were married at Lambeth in the summer of 1892. Although he had been born in Scotland, James was living with his widowed mother and siblings on Havelock Square in Broomhall in 1881. James, then aged 17 was an accountant’s clerk
When James and Annette were married, James was working in Birmingham as an insurance agent. He was living in a very international boarding house with others (all male, single and of a similar age) from Germany, Denmark, Sweden and South Africa as well as Great Britain, a combination that must have made for some lively evenings!
Donald was born in Kings Norton in 1892. A second son, John, followed in 1893 and his birth was also registered in Kings Norton. The family returned to Sheffield sometime before 1901 and set up home on Elmore Road where their third son, Johnston, was born. The household was large as it included Donald’s grandmother and aunt who were both Hendersons and a cousin who was about the same age as him.
Donald attended Haileybury College in Hertfordshire between 1908 and 1912 and then Clare College, Cambridge. He had just completed his second undergraduate year when war was declared.
Late in 1911, James Henderson and his family moved to one of the newly built houses on Silver Birch Avenue in Fulwood where they remained for some years before moving to Worksop.
Donald enlisted at Cambridge as soon as war was declared, gaining a commision with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was ‘in the trenches’ two days before Christmas. On 11th January 1915 he was struck by a piece of shell and died instantly. He is buried in the Le Touret Military Cemetery at Richebourg-L’avoue which is about 80 kilometres south-east of Dunkirk.
The grave headstone has the dedication:
Thy day without a cloud hath passed
thou wast lovely to the last
As Donald’s death occurred early on in the war, it elicited ‘kindly’ messages of sympathy from both the King and Lord Kitchner as well as a number of short reports in the newspapers. The Daily Telegraph offered an aspect of Donald’s life when ‘Looker-on’ in his local golf notes reported that:
Very general sympathy was felt with the bereaved parents when it became known that Mr. Donald Henderson had been killed at the front. His father has been so very closely identified with golf for many years past, that it was no wonder the son also took to the game, and his name is on the list of Hallamshire playing members as a junior. Thus here we get the first case of a Sheffield golf club losing a member during the war, one out of a great number who have gone out for King and country’s sake. Mr. Henderson has died mourned by many friends, and leaving aching hearts at home, but his has been a hero’s death, and will be so remembered.
Donald Henderson is commemorated on the plaque behind the memorial at Fulwood and at Haileybury College.