Private Robert Hendrie

 

97004310 Private Robert Hendrie of the 225th Parachute Field Ambulance. A conscientious objector on religious grounds, Hendrie joined the British Army in 1940 and served for two years with 188 Section, 19th Bomb Disposal Company, R.E. He subsequently trained as a medic, qualified as an operative room assistant, and was posted to the 225th Parachute Field Ambulance. The following is a poem, entitled Parachuting, which he wrote during parachute training on the 4th September 1943.

 

Now parachuting is a thrill

That no one will deny

It needs a lot of game and skill

And walks before you fly

 

The noisy plane and awkward chute

All tend to make me dole

Th' instructor seems a callous brute

To send me through that hole

 

Sometimes the pilot turns around

Before he gives the wire

But all the views down on the ground

Have no attraction here

 

Soon my breakfast dinner and tea

Adopt a fighting mood

Why did I join?, Oh goodness me

What awful waste of food

 

And then with fear the red is seen

Grim faces watch that glow

Then in a flash there comes the green

And through the floor we go

 

For one split sec, my visions blurred

With trees and grass and sky

Until I feel a gentle tug

Then all my worries fly

 

With merry heart I look above

And greet my silky friend

I'm jolly glad you've opened love

And saved a sticky end

 

Soon I hit the grassy lea

And do a dizzy spin

Then wander off in quest of tea

Another jump put in

 

As he was registered for non-combatant duties, Hendrie was not promoted beyond Private but was twice offered a commission to relinquish his status. He parachuted into Normandy on the 6th June 1944, but is believed to have broken a leg on landing, and having been found in a wheat field, was carried to a dressing station. He later served with the 225th Parachute Field Ambulance in the Far East. On the 15th July 1946, aboard the SS Mauretania bound for the UK, he wrote the following abridged letter to his wife, beginning by explaining that he was unable to buy a doll for his daughter, Marion, because "... I'm flat broke... You see Cathy, with me being in hospital and then at the rest camp, I couldn't draw any money and when I finally came back to transit to get this boat, they'd stopped paying. So here I am without a penny to buy a cup of tea!! (laugh). Never mind, it's all saved up in my credits which should be roughly 70 - 80! maybe more. This is only what I've saved off my Japanese Campaign Pay and Rupee concession, also my parachuting 2/- a day. Well Cathie, I'm writing this from the Mauretania as she's docked in Singapore, we are due to sail tomorrow evening at 4 o'clock and it seems she intends to break a record on the way home; so it should be about 15 or 16 days to Liverpool (maybe Southampton), and within 36 hours I should be nearly home... I'm sorry about the letters I wrote you from the Rest Camp but we were so isolated, that I couldn't get them posted to you! I had a bit of a carry on in the office when I came back to the transit camp, for a whole day I wasn't to be on the ship, but I agitated so much that I had in the end my name on two lists of drafts, both for the same boat. I chose the best one and left them to put the other "Hendrie" on a charge of desertion, it serves them jolly right for forgetting about me. I've more right to be on this boat than most of the other 5000 troops, they are nearly all 36/37 group. I'm 35 group!... I've still got a bit of a cough and in my pack is a small bottle of rum if I'm sick at all. I've got a real boozer I think, since coming out here! (laugh). I won't be sorry to say goodbye to the East, it holds no glamour for me, except flies and smells!". Robert Hendrie passed away in 1967. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

 188 Section, 19th Bomb Disposal Company, R.E., July 1941. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Robert Hendrie (centre). Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

 Taken on the 10th October 1945, whilst serving in the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Taken in the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Taken in the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Taken in the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

Taken in the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

A telegram informing Hendrie of the birth of his daughter, Marion. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.

 

 

A card which Hendrie made and sent home to his wife from the Far East. Copyright: Robert Hendrie.