Henderson, David Francis (Dai)
No. 978536, 218 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in action on Thursday 10 April 1941 (aged 18)
No known grave
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 45)
Bangor and District War Memorial
Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s)
Bangor Grammar School
David Francis (Dai) Henderson was born on 17 October 1922 and he was a son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Henderson. Thomas Henderson was a member of Bangor Borough Council and the Henderson family lived at 18 Hazeldene Gardens, Bangor. Later they moved to Egremont, Demesne Avenue, Holywood where Dai’s father held the post of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Officer. Later the Henderson family returned to Bangor and they lived at 19 Southwell Road. Both Dai and his elder brother Roy were confirmed in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s). During the Second World War Roy Henderson served as a Lieutenant in the Indian Army.
Dai Henderson attended Bangor Grammar School from 1935 until 1940 and he went straight from school to the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in February 1940 at the age of 17 years and 4 months. In sixth form he was a prefect and the Headmaster commented when he was studying for his Senior Certificate that ‘he had a distinguished record behind him and the promise of a brilliant career before him’. At school he won prizes for historic modelling and the Headmaster said, ‘we never had anyone equal to him in that form of art: his skill, originality and attention to detail were beyond praise.’ Several examples of his work were placed in the school history museum, including a miniature bust of the late King George V. He obtained two honours certificates in the Royal Drawing Society’s examinations. Dai Henderson had a talent for ‘humorous impersonation’ in Dramatic Society productions and he also played rugby for the school.
Sergeant Dai Henderson served as a wireless operator and air gunner in 218 Squadron and on 10 April 1941 he was one of a crew of six aboard a Vickers Wellington Mark IC aircraft (R1442) that took off from RAF Marham in Norfolk at 7.30 pm on a mission to bomb Brest in France where the Germans had a submarine base. After sending a message for help the aircraft crashed into the sea. The other crew members who died that night were:
- Sergeant Arthur George Plumb
- Sergeant John Donald Brown (aged 21) from Dundee
- Flight Sergeant Robert Edward Venning Anderson, Royal Canadian Air Force
- Sergeant George Stewartson Snoddon (aged 24) from Liverpool
- Sergeant Tahu William Dabinette (aged 21), Royal New Zealand Air Force
Only Flight Sergeant Anderson’s body was recovered, and he was buried in Brest (Kerfautras) Cemetery; the others have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sergeant Dai Henderson (No. 978536) was 18 when he died, and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Comgall’s) and in Bangor Grammar School.