Pilot Officer William John Henderson

Pilot Officer (Under Training) William John Henderson was undergoing training at RAF No 2 Air Observer School at RAF Millom in Cumbria. On 10 January 1942, at 0420 hours, Avro Anson Mk.1 AX536 crashed soon after hitting an obstruction during take-off. It crashed into the sea and all on board were killed. The accident report stated that the cause was primarily due to lack of control during take-off which caused the aircraft to swing. The undercarriage wheel had struck the flare cover which in turn tilted or threw it into the air where it possibly hit the tail plane of the aircraft. 

The Anson crew: 

Warrant Officer Frank George Ernest Tizard DFM RAF (564418) pilot, age unknown 

Pilot Officer William John Henderson, RAFVR (106867) 2nd pilot (under training), age 19 

Sergeant Henry Lincoln Gibson RAAF (40467) observer, age 22 

Sergeant Maurice Henry Wadham RAAF (407740) observer, age 29

Flight Sergeant Joseph Lyon Roberts RAF (55191) wireless operator/air gunner, age 20 

Henderson was the eldest son of  Robert and  Florence M Henderson, 3 James Street, Perth. He was educated at Guildtown and Balhousie Boys School. He had been in the RAF for 18 months. Before joining, he was employed by James Scott Electricians, Princess Street, Perth.  

Tizard and Roberts have no known grave and but commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Henderson is buried in Wellshill Cemetery, Perth. A lectern in his memory was presented to St Martin’s Parish Church, near Scone, by the 8th Perthshire, St Martin’s Church Boy Scouts. 

Research by Ken Bruce


The school at Millom trained night bomber aircrew – 79 Anson Mk.1 were used, along with Boulton Paul Sidestrand III, Boulton Paul Overstrand, Westland Wallace II, Hawker Hind, Handley Page Harrow I, Fairy Battle I, Blackburn Botha I, Airspeed Oxford I, II, Westland Lysander III, TT III, TT IIIa, and a de Havilland DH60 Moth aircraft.  

The Avro Anson was remembered with affection by RAF aircrew as ‘Faithful Annie’. 

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (HU 54488) Avro Anson Mark 1, DJ104 ‘XF-K’, and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mark V, N1369 ‘UO-U’, both of No. 19 Operational Training Unit, after a night flying accident at Kinloss, Morayshire, on 19 October 1943, during which the Anson pilot mistook the airfield controller’s signal and landed on top of the Whitley as the latter was starting to take off. Neither crew was injured and, although the Whitley was… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211236

ROYAL AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT (CH 1330) Original wartime caption: AVRO ANSON – low wing cantilever twin-engined monoplane In flight over the English countryside. [Believed to be No.321 Squadron]. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205442799

ROYAL AIR FORCE AIRCRAFT (CH 1332) Original wartime caption: [See CH.1330] AVRO ANSONS on reconnaissance (Believed to be No.321 Squadron) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205442801

RAF COASTAL COMMAND IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR (HU 106265) An Avro Anson of No. 502 Squadron being refuelled at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, April 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205234207