Sgt John Cook ‘Jack’ Henderson ( 4464771) and the 16th Battalion DLI Mortar Platoon, HQ Company, Rye, Sussex,  late 1942

Sgt John Cook ‘Jack’ Henderson ( 4464771) and the 16th Battalion DLI Mortar Platoon, HQ Company, Rye, Sussex, late 1942

All the photographs on this and the following pages are courtesy of John Henderson’s son, Steve.

For a left side enlargement of the photo click here; for a right side enlargement, click here.

John Cooke 'Jack' Henderson was enlisted directly into the 16th Battalion DLI on its formation at Edinburgh in July 1940. His Army Number was 4464771. Jack Henderson served in the Mortar Platoon, which was one of the six specialist HQ Company platoons that began forming in the autumn of 1940 once the new 16 DLI recruits had completed their basic training. By 1942 he was a Mortar Platoon Sergeant. He is featured at third from the left, front row in the 16 DLI Mortar Platoon photograph above, which seems to have been taken at the same time and location, Rye Sussex, as the 1942 Sergeants photograph on which he also features.

Lt Harry Mynheer MM is the officer at centre. Mynheer had won the MM in the ranks with the Royal Artillery in the retreat to Dunkirk. Later commissioned in the Durham Light Infantry and posted to 16 DLI, he was wounded during the Sedjenane Battle of 3/43.

Mynheer returned to the battalion in 4/43 and was commanding Support Company by 1945. But who are the other soldiers on the photograph? Over 70 years on, as World War Two drifts beyond living memory, that is a difficult question. However, there must be several people out there who have this very same photograph who can name at least one relative.

The photograph’s identical location to the 1942 Sergeants photos suggests that the other five specialist HQ Company platoons, the Signals, Anti-Aircraft, Carriers, Pioneers and Admin, also had group photographs taken in front of the same building at this time. So if you have a similar photograph featuring a group of DLI soldiers standing in front of these distinctive windows and wall, it could well be one of these long-lost photographs which at present are completely lost to the battalion’s history.

Several of the men featured on the photograph will almost certainly have become fatal casualties or POWs in 1943-45. Probably on the photograph are Sgt Henderson’s friends Pte T Guthery, who hailed from Seaton Sluice, Northumberland. Sgt Henderson’s runner, Pte Turner, also probably features somewhere, too. Sgt Rogers and Sgt David Brown have also been mentioned in connection with the Mortar Platoon as has L/Cpl Wilfred Townsend, whose medal display is on this page of the site.

Mortar Platoon, HQ Company, 16 DLI, 1942

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