Henderson, Crawford (No. D/JX 143656)

Henderson, Crawford

Able Seaman

No. D/JX 143656, HM Submarine Perseus, Royal Navy

Killed on active service on Friday 19 December 1941 (aged 22)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, England (Panel 47 Column 2)

Conlig Presbyterian Church (the organ was dedicated to his memory)

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery


Crawford Henderson was born on 6 March 1919 in Conlig and he was a son of John and Margaret (Maggie) Henderson (nee Lynn) who were married on 17 May 1899 in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church.

The Henderson family lived at 2 Main Road, Conlig.

John Henderson worked as a general labourer and he and Maggie had at least eleven children including:

John (born 27 November 1899 in Conlig)

William John (born 11 December 1900 in Conlig)

Elizabeth (born 8 March 1903 in Conlig)

Maggie (born 25 September 1905 in Conlig)

Robert (born 16 July 1907 in Conlig)

Ernest (born 25 October 1909 in Conlig)

Mary (May, born 15 December 1910 in Conlig; died of measles 22 September 1911)

Lewis (sometimes Louis, born 20 July 1913 in Conlig)

Mary (born 19 November 1915 in Conlig)

Crawford (born 6 March 1919 in Conlig)

Crawford Henderson joined the Royal Navy and in November 1938 he travelled aboard the SS Rajputana with other Navy personnel from Malta to the Royal Navy Barracks in Devonport.  (The SS Rajputana was requisitioned by the Admiralty in September 1939 and, on 13 April 1941, she sank west of Reykjavik in Iceland after being hit by a torpedo fired from the German submarine U-108).

Crawford Henderson’s marriage to Elsie Hutchings was registered in the third quarter of 1939 in Plymouth, Devon and they lived in St. Austell, Cornwall.

During the Second World War Able Seaman Crawford Henderson (No. D/JX 143656) served with the Royal Navy aboard HM Submarine Perseus.  This Parthian class submarine was built in 1929 by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-In-Furness.  At 10.00 pm on 6 December 1941 (the date in some records whilst in the CWGC Debt of Honour the date of Crawford’s death is recorded as 19 December 1941) HM Submarine Perseus sank after striking an Italian mine off the island of Cephalonia (Kefalonia), seven miles north of the island of Zakinthos in the Ionian Sea.  At the time she was at the surface recharging her batteries under cover of darkness.  One man out of the 61 men on board survived – John Capes used Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus to reach the surface from a depth of 171 feet and then he swam five miles to Cephalonia.  He was hidden by islanders for 18 months before being smuggled out.  The HM Submarine Perseus Memorial on Cephalonia is located just outside the town of Poros.

After Crawford Henderson died, his family placed a Killed on Active Service notice in the 20 June 1942 edition of the County Down Spectator.  His death was deeply regretted by his father, mother, sisters, brothers, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces and the death notice contained the verse:

He never shunned his country’s call,

But gladly gave his life – his all;

He died, the helpers to defend,

An Ulster sailor’s noble end

Able Seaman Crawford Henderson was 22 when he died, and he is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial in Devon; in Conlig Presbyterian Church (the organ was dedicated to his memory) and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery.  His mother Margaret died on 9 January 1951 (aged 73) and his father John died on 10 October 1953 (aged 84).  His sister Margaret died on 5 August 1938; his brother Ernest died on 21 July 1941 and his brother Lewis died on 7 October 1983.