Roll of Honour

Roll of Honour

Henderson, James Macdonald

Rank: Acting-Major

Regiment: 3/4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, attached to 7th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Biography: Son of James M. Henderson, farmer; born Rosskeen, 6 January 1891; educated Invergordon Academy and Gordon's College ; entered the University, 1908, as 9th bursar. It was to English studies he turned, and he closed a brilliant progress by graduating M.A., 1912 with 1st Class Honours in English (Seafield Medal, Minto Prize). Henderson's character, as it gradually revealed itself to one who, like the writer, knew him first across the barrier that separates teacher and taught, and then with ever increasing intimacy as Assistant (1913) and friend, was a continuous unfolding of new depths and heights. All his work was excellent, and he showed himself an enthusiastic but discriminating student of the work of living poets and prose writers. I have had few greater pleasures than that of a daily intercourse with his beautiful and modest character, his ardour and conscientiousness as teacher and examiner, his pure and genuine zeal for literature. Then came the war, and a new revelation of the depth and strength of character which underlay the eagerness and refinement of his mind and temper. When he enlisted, almost immediately after the opening of the session, I admired what seemed to me a great act of moral courage on the part of a retired student bound to feel acutely out of harmony with his environment. It proved quite otherwise. As a Private in the 2/4th Gordons he found points of contact and sympathy with men of traditions and experience the most remote from his own. He became an ardent and persuasive recruiter. In May 1915 he received a commission in the 3/4th Gordons and soon went abroad. On active service he proved not only a conscientious but a courageous and able soldier, intellectually interested in the career he had embraced as an act of duty, as loyally devoted to the officers under whom he served as he had been to the teachers under whom he studied. In 1916 he received the Military Cross for his courage and enterprise in raiding trenches, and in April 1917 a bar to the Cross for his conduct in the attack on Vimy Ridge. A man of his fine and sensitive character necessarily felt the cruel and terrible strain of the war, but in a single letter only did he sound a despondent note, and when I met him shortly afterwards the mood had gone and his note was that of cheerful resignation, with just a shade of contempt for those who were earning distinctions in safe billets at home. Each return showed an advance in self-confidence and power to accept responsibility. He was at home on leave from the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (to which he had been attached as Acting-Major) when the great German offensive began in March 1918. Without waiting for his recall he hurried back, and was killed in action at Locon, 11 April 1918. In a few years he had lived a full life, had developed from the shy, absorbed student to the brave and enterprising soldier, to the experienced and able and trusted officer who, at the moment he fell, was Acting-Commander of his Battalion.

Honours: Military Cross with Bar

Date of Death: 11 April 1918

Burial Details: Name recorded on the Loos Memorial, Panel 115, Column 1.

Publication: Roll of Service, edited by Mabel Desborough Allardyce. Published 1921.

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