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’.