• Christina Drummond

Second Lieutenant Eric Henderson, 8th (City of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Post Office R

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant Eric Henderson, 8th (City of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Post Office Rifles), was listed as missing in action, presumed killed, during the Battle of Messines in West Flanders.

The son of a Church of England vicar, he had attended the The Congregational School in Caterham, Surrey, then was employed at the General Post Office in Halifax, West Yorkshire, until the outbreak of the Great War.

On the day of his death, after an extensive artillery bombardment, the British killed 10,000 German soldiers by detonating mines beneath Messines Ridge – the loud explosions, considered the most powerful non-nuclear detonations ever, rattled the windows of Downing Street. Second Lieutenant Henderson’s platoon was then ordered to take four enemy positions, but they were cut down by heavy machine gun fire, their bodies not recovered. They were remembered with honour on the Commonwealth Graves Commission’s Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing.

In 2017 during road works south of Ypres, Second Lieutenant Henderson’s remains were found; a coin with his name engraved on it being considered proof of identity. His family members were notified and his burial was arranged at the Oak Dump Cemetery in Belgium, a hundred years after his death. The War Graves Commission provided the headstone for his grave, and it was thus engraved: “Tread softly o’er my beautiful Eric’s grave, for a mother’s love lies here.”

Eric, from Heckmondwike in West Yorkshire, was 21 years old.

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