British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) Kenneth Robert Henderson

 

British Intelligence Officer (Lieutenant) Kenneth Robert Henderson (aged 27) of the Second Green Howards Regiment (Kilgobnet near Macroom)

Date of incident: 26 April 1922 (executed by IRA and disappeared)

 

Sources: Evening Herald, 1 May 1922; Freeman’s Journal, 2 May 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 2 May 1922; The Times (London), 22, 23 June, 19, 20 July 1922, 26 Jan. 1923, 12, 13 Dec. 1923; II, 13 Dec. 1923; SS, 15 Dec. 1923; Hampshire Regiment Journal (Jan. 1924); British Soldiers Missing, A/0909 (Military Archives); Michael Walsh’s WS 1521, 17 (BMH); James Murphy’s WS 1633, 15 (BMH); Maurice Brew’s WS 1695, 27 (BMH); Daniel Corkery’s WS 1719, 29 (BMH); D’Arcy (2007), 52-53; Keane (2014), 174-78; Keane (2017), 285-87, 415; http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/kilgobnet-1922.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018); http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/henderson/henderson.html (accessed 27 Feb. 2018).

 

Note: After fruitless visits to Macroom on 27 and 28 April 1922 by smaller British military parties searching for the three missing intelligence officers, a much larger force under Major Bernard Montgomery arrived on 30 April. Not knowing that by this time the officers and their driver had been executed, the British vainly sought to overawe the IRA garrison in Macroom Castle and to gain admission for a search. A telegram sent to a Dublin evening newspaper reported that on 30 April ‘eight lorries filled with soldiers, and escorted by four armoured cars, entered the town and took up positions commanding Macroom Castle. These displays have caused considerable excitement on the part of the Republican troops in occupation of the Castle, and “occupation of positions within the Castle demesne walls by [British] army forces is regarded as highly provocative”.’ Yet the local IRA leaders were more than prepared to face down this threat. They had positioned ‘a detachment of their own soldiers on Sleaveen Hill overlooking the whole area, plus more troops around the town, plus a strong garrison in the Castle itself, with a Vickers machine gun on the roof. Charlie Browne came out of the Castle and met Montgomery in The Square; the IRA say that all that was said between the men was that Browne delivered an ultimatum: “Unless your troops are withdrawn within 5 minutes, my men have orders to open fire.” Montgomery withdrew his men.’ See http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/kilgobnet-1922.html (accessed 24 Feb. 2018). See the next entry.

 

Numerous salient facts about the earlier life and military career of Lieutenant Henderson have been discovered and revealed. He was born in the summer of 1895 at Epsom in Surrey. He was partly educated at Charterhouse, the well-known English public school. At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the 28th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles), ‘a popular unit for volunteers’ that especially attracted fresh recruits from public schools and universities. Henderson landed in France on 26 October 1914 as a non-commissioned officer and was promoted to (temporary) second lieutenant in March 1915. At the end of that year he became attached to the Yorkshire Regiment, and later still to the Gloucestershire Regiment, with the successive ranks of Acting Vice Captain (May 1917) and Acting Captain (August 1917). He relinquished the latter rank in September 1919. At the end of the Great War, like his comrade Lieutenant G.R.A. Dove, he joined the Expeditionary Relief Force to Russia, where he won the Military Cross with the 6th Battalion on the Archangel front. When this high honour was gazetted, the announcement stated: ‘He has carried out the duties of a company commander of a mixed force at Bolshe-Ozerki and has worked in a very efficient way. He has had continuous service on this front since November 1918, and in the four engagements in which his company has taken part, he has proved to be a fearless and good leader of men.’ He was the younger son of Robert Cron Henderson, J.P. (a banker), of Nithsdale, Sutton, Surrey. The official name of the 2nd Green Howards Regiment to which his son belonged at the time of his death was the Alexandra Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment. See http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/kilgobnet%201922/henderson/henderson.html (accessed 27 Feb. 2018); The Times (London), 23 June 1922 (death notice); 26 Jan. 1923 (probate).       

 


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