Philip F Henderson

 

Philip Filou Henderson, RAF veteran and POW during World War II in the Far East.

('Chick' Henderson to his RAF colleagues)

30th of March 1920 – 5th of September 2013

The story of a wonderful man

Chick Henderson

A friend who I met in connection with tracing my father’s prisoner of war (POW) history in the Far East recommended that I should attend a POW reunion in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in August 2013. I thought to myself, what is the point? I can’t imagine that there will be many POWs left for me to talk to. World War II ended 63 years ago! More still, this particular POW club was concerned with those who were captured in Java (modern day Indonesia). Again, I really couldn’t see this being much help with my project relating to my father wartime experiences in Hong Kong and as a POW in Japan. However, my friend, Adrian Batty, whose father was captured in Java and who was transported to the same prisoner of war camp that my father was in, convinced me that there would be some purpose in attending the reunion. So I went along. I met up with Adrian and we had a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable reunion conference. But more especially, I met some very interesting veterans. In particular, I spent a long time talking to Chick Henderson (Philip Henderson) who was an RAF POW captured in Java.

It was fascinating meeting him, – he was a great guy!  One afternoon in particular we sat together for over three hours and the whole time he was telling jokes and making humorous anecdotes amidst telling me about his WWII experiences. He made light of his hardship as a POW. I came away thinking what a wonderful man and what an enjoyable experience it was meeting him. As the conference finished on the Sunday I said to him that I would like to visit him and chat some more. Chick and I had agreed that I would publish his story, on my website along with the stories of other POW veterans.

A few weeks later after my further travels I came home to find I had a small parcel delivered. Chick had sent me a video disc and two tapes. The note attached, said:

“Victor, hope you will enjoy the disc. If you can make use of it I shall be delighted. Many thanks for an interesting weekend!

Kindest regards,

Chick  (in haste)”

The video was copy of a talk he had given to the South Shields Probus club in 2004. The tapes were copies of recordings from BBC Radio interviews he had given in about 1998. These recordings were about his experiences as a POW. The video recording was a detailed talk about his journey from England to Singapore, escaped to Java, capture and transportation and final imprisonment as a POW in Japan. It is a wonderful first-hand record of the wartime experiences of a POW in the Far East.

I was on the verge of calling Chick to thank him and to make arrangements to visit him when I had an email from my friend Adrian informing me that Chick had died. I was shocked, but also felt privileged to have met him and to be in possession of his wartime record.

I duly copied the recordings (they were returned to his family) and then transcribed them into this biography. They are an epitaph to Chick Henderson and his fellow POWs.

The funeral of Philip Filou Henderson took place on Monday, 23 September 2013 at All Saints Church, Headley, Hampshire; when I was privileged to meet his lovely family and hear their tributes to Philip, especially those from his son and his grandsons.

Victor S Ient

WWII Researcher

Chick & myself at the Java Club FEPOW Reunion in August 2013

Please note that Chick has a broad ‘Geordie’ accent and I have tried to use the words phrase he uses. A Geordie accent is both a regional nickname for a person from the larger Tyneside region of North East England, and the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants.

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