Henderson, George (1893-1919)

Conscientious Objector

George Henderson was born at Shotton Colliery, Co Durham, where his father Caleb Henderson worked as a stone cutter in the mine. George was one of 12 children, of whom four died in infancy. He was a Primitive Methodist and worked as a shop assistant in a chemist’s shop.

In 1916, as a Conscientious Objector, George appeared before the Easington Military Service Tribunal, which granted him exemption from combatant service.

George asked to join the Royal Army Medical Corps, but instead was assigned to the Non-Combatant Corps, and was sent to serve in France.

On 4 September 1917, while working in the Royal Engineers Timber Yard in Rouen, George was injured, and unable to work for a while. In evidence he gave to the enquiry into the accident he said, ‘I was pulling a hand cart in Rue de Madagascar timber yard, through a narrow space between two piles of timber. The wheel caught in one of the piles, the handle swung round and hit me.’ Other soldiers who witnessed the accident, showed that he was not to blame.

In March 1919, he was allowed home on leave, but tragically took with him the influenza which was rampaging through the troops. On 24 March, the local a doctor sent a certificate to say that ‘Private George Henderson, residing at 30 Luke St, Trimdon Colliery, is unable to rejoin his unit on account of Influenza’. On 27 March, he sent another note to say that George had developed Pneumonia, and ‘This soldier is dangerously ill’. His brother, who had been granted ‘special leave due to sickness at home’ wrote, ‘And I may say things are in a terrible state here. And I have another sister very ill. Father is much better, but my dear Mother is still very ill.’

George died on 27 March 1919. He was buried in Deaf Hill (St Paul’s) Churchyard, Trimdon, and his name is recorded in the Peace Pledge Union’s database of Conscientious Objectors.

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