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The Airmen's Stories - F/O J A M Henderson


James Alan MacDonald Henderson was born on 8th August 1911 and educated at Angusfield House Preparatory School in Aberdeen and Charterhouse and Jesus College, Cambridge.

He served an apprenticeship with the family engineering business, which specialised in the manufacture of cranes. Until 1935 he was manager of the London office. He resigned and up to the outbreak of war was a senior account executive with Dorland Advertising.

Henderson learned to fly in 1929 at Brooklands School of Flying and in the late 1930s he had an air charter business, Brooklands Air Taxis Ltd. Just before the outbreak of war he sold the company.



Above: on 8th September 1937 Henderson married American socialite Louise Lyman at Caxton Hall in London.


He joined the RAF in September 1939 on a direct-entry commission and went to 3 EFTS Hamble for an instructors refresher course. The course was discontinued on 3rd November and he went to 3 ITW Hastings, moving on to the RAF College FTS Cranwell on 1st January 1940 on No. 1 War Course for Officers.

After completing the course Henderson went to 2 School of Army Co-operation at Andover in early June but was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down on the 22nd, converted to Hurricanes and then joined 257 Squadron at Northolt on 7th July 1940.

Henderson destroyed two Me110s in combat over Clacton on 31st August. His Hurricane, V6601, was hit in the petrol tank in the engagement. He baled out, injured and burned, was rescued from the sea and admitted to Brightlingsea Naval Hospital.

He was discharged from hospital on 10th September.

After convalescence at the RAF Hospital Torquay, he rejoined 257 Squadron, then at Martlesham Heath, in November.

A medical board the next month decided that he was no longer fit to fly operationally and Henderson did a short spell at 5 FTS Ternhill before going to Canada in HMT Orontes in January 1941.

He instructed briefly at 33 SFTS Carberry before moving to 31 SFTS Kingston, Ontario, where he remained until July 1942.

Henderson then joined Ferry Command at North Bay, Ontario. Until mid-January 1944 he was on the North and South Atlantic ferry runs.

He returned to the UK in February 1944 and spent the next two years at various home ferry units.

Henderson was released from the RAF in early March 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

He died in on 26th July 1989 in Aberdeen.



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