It is my sad duty to announce that Vic Henderson passed away on Wednesday 27th May. The life of Vic Henderson will be celebrated on Thursday 4th June.
Charles Victor Philp Henderson (known as Vic), Late of Kenmore, passed away peacefully at Wesley Hospital on 27th May, 2015 aged 91. Dearly loved Husband of Sheila, beloved Father of Sue and Jill, adored Grandpa and Grandpa-in-law of Harry, Grace and James; and Treasured Cousin, Uncle and Friend. He will be remembered and farewelled at 1400h Thursday, 4th June, at Centenary Memorial Gardens, Wacol Station Rd, Sumner. “A life well lived; greatly missed; fondly remembered. “Family requests that donations in Vic’s memory can be made in lieu of flowers, to either The Wesley Hospital or The Kenmore-Moggill RSL Sub-Branch, kenmoremoggillrsl. org/donations.
The President of Kenmore-Moggill Sub-Branch RSL respectfully requests that Members attend the Funeral Service.
Vic Henderson was the iconic Royal Australian Air Force veteran who served in Bomber Command in the UK during WWII and in a classic romance married his war-time sweet heart, RAF dental nurse Sheila, over 60 years ago.
A long term resident of Kenmore, Brisbane, he was easily identifiable by his Air Force handle bar moustache and was a constant reminder of a now almost lost era of one of the most dangerous roles of WWII; bombing missions over occupied Europe, where he completed 30 operations. He regularly attended veteran functions and donned his Flight Lieutenant uniform including leading and taking the salutes at Anzac Day services in Brisbane and the western suburbs.
Vic, as he was widely known, was truly a Queenslander, born at the family home “Mallow” on the present site of Brisbane Boys College, his maternal grandfather was former Queensland Premier Sir Robert Philp. His grandfather became a widower at 36 and as part of a bequest gave land to BCC to ensure his family would receive a good education. Vic’s father, William, married his mother, Elsie, and they moved to Sanford Park, a sheep station south of Charleville. This was where Vic began his enduring love of the outback.
He was educated at Toowoomba Prep and Grammar, excelled at spelling, maths and athletics particularly high jumping. He worked in the bank and from there went into the Air Force in 1942. After training in Australia he became a wireless navigator and arrived in the UK in 1944 for the build up of the D-Day invasion of Europe. He became one of the 10,000 Australians who flew with Bomber Command flying Lancasters joining RAF 150 Squadron.
Bomber Command incurred some of highest casualties of any allied services during the war. Its air crew lost over 55,000 killed of whom Australia lost 5,397 killed and 947 wounded. They made up 5 per cent of Australia’s armed services in WWII but incurred over 20 per cent of the overall losses. Life was very dangerous for these young men. That Vic survived operations was a miracle. Before one operation he fell ill and was grounded when his normal crew was lost. He was then assigned to another crew where he served out his tour. During early 1945 he often flew every second night and on one occasion encountered attacks by German jets. His last bombing operation was on 25 April 1945 against Hitler’s lair; Berchtesgarden.
Vic often spoke of his proudest role dropping food in the final stages of the war to the starving people of Holland in Operation Manna. This prompted on at least two occasions Dutch families thanking him personally for saving their lives. He completed 192 hours on operations as a Warrant officer.
It was a proud visit for Vic and Sheila to be part of the 80 strong Australian delegation of former Bomber Command members to be invited to attend the unveiling of the memorial by Queen Elizabeth in London in 2012.
His war service was a duet with Sheila his wife of 63 years. She was a RAF dental nurse during the war and volunteered for service in occupied Germany at the war’s end. On leave before departure she holidayed in Brighton, a known centre for Aussie air crews, and picked the shyest member there ; Vic, when the romance began. It took a few years for her to move to Australia and marry Vic in September 1951.
On returning to Australia Vic had run a chicken farm at Pullenvale but had it sold by the time Sheila arrived in Australia. With the responsibilities of a wife Vic needed a steady job so decided to re-enlist in the RAAF in 1952 serving another six years including during the Malayian Emergency where he completed another 125 operational hours on Lincolns the successor to the Lancaster.
He returned to Brisbane to work in real estate with Hookers at Jindalee but maintained his Air Force love and passion as an instructor with the Air Training Cadets for over 30 years including a flight at Kenmore State High School.
His love of the bush included his love of animals and during their early home life included horses, calves and dogs. He outlived most of his contemporaries and regularly went with Sheila to the Irish Club as the man to six other war brides whose husbands had passed on.
Vic also found time to be an active member of the RSL, Meals-on-wheels and supporting legacy with one legatee David Lincoln saying he became the ultimate father role model for him. He said Vic also helped nurture his children one of whom has now taken up flying.
Vic was always willing to attend at the local schools particularly on Anzac Days particularly Kenmore South and in 2014 was the main speaker with Sheila at Milton State Primary where both gave their War Service stories to an enthralled audience. A number of tears were shed as they spoke.
He died after a short illness. Vic is remembered as an honourable, kind and generous man and is survived by wife, Sheila, two children, Sue and Jill, and grand children Harry, Grace and James.
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF’s bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. Along with the United States Army Air Force, it played the central role in the strategic bombing of Germany in WWII. From 1942 onward, the British bombing campaign against Germany became less reactive and increasingly targeted industrial sites and the civilian manpower base essential for German war production.
Bomber Command stood at the peak of its post-war military power in the 1960s, the V Bombers holding the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent and a supplemental force of Canberra light bombers.
In August 2006, a memorial was unveiled at Lincoln Cathedral. A memorial in Green park in London was unveiled by the Queen on 28 June 2012 to highlight the price paid by the aircrews.
At the height of its operations in late 1944 Bomber Command comprised over 80 operational squadrons. These squadrons were organised into several groups on the basis of their role, the type of aircraft they operated, and the locations of the airfields from which they operated. In 1939 these groups were numbered 2-5 and by the end of the war Bomber Command comprised 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (Canadian), 8 (Pathfinder), 100 (Special Duties), and 91, 92 and 93 (Training) groups.