The portrait photograph at right is undated. Below is a transcribed extract from from a photostat aerograph letter, postmarked 6/4/43 and sent to Mrs J C Henderson, 59 Corchester Walk, Benton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 7 by:

4464771 Sergt J C Henderson, HQ Coy, 16 DLI, BNAF, signed (and read, for censorship checking purposes) by Lt H Pritchard, 16 DLI

'With the advent of the aerograph service to the BNAF we now feel we have that could be desired in the way of postal facilities. Mail from home is coming in very well and provided we have the time we can at least send one air mail letter, one airgraph and as many ordinary letters as we wish. My weather forcecast for yesterday proved to be correct and today promises well. Already at 8 am the sun is quite hot and I should say we are probably in for a spell of warm weather. Often we have cursed the cold and wet. Perhaps we shall learn that warm and dry weather is more difficult to bear, mosquitos are already on the job.

In the various newspapers I have recently received I have been interested and sometimes amused by letters published from this part of the world, letters which tell of the grand time they are having. Not having been in a civilised place for three months we are not able to appreciate this. One of my men received a letter from his wife asking him to send her some silk stockings. Someone she knew had received some from Africa. If only she knew!

Mr Mynheer has recovered from his injury and will shortly be rejoining us. Has his wife been to see you yet? .......'

BNAF stands for British North Africa Forces. The letter above was written while the battalion was reduced to three companies; one new company consisting of a draft of reinforcements, 'E Company' lead by Major Arthur Vizard, with the other two made up of survivors of the Sedjenane battle, one led by Captain Ballance, which would have included the Mortar Platoon, and the other by Major Denis Worrall, presumably made up of the remnants of the four rifle companies.

During this period the severely under-strength battalion was moved all over the northern Tunisian front and was under all manner of different brigade and divisional commands. Captain Ballance's MC citation here fixes his company's movements in mid-March.

The brief history on this page provides further context.

The word in the battalion at this time was that 'the prevailing wind was in your face.' Opportunities for buying silk stockings were thus severely limited! The mention of Lt Harry Mynheer is also notable.

The battalion's next major action at Sidi Barka on 22/4/43, was just two weeks after the letter above was written.
Sgt John Henderson, 16 DLI, portrait

Sgt John Henderson, 16 DLI, Letter Extract 6/4/43

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