b. 20/12/1911 Falkirk, Scotland. d. 13/06/1941 Loch Laggan, Scotland.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 13/06/1941 Loch Laggan, Scotland.
James “Scotty” Hendry (1911-1941) was born on 20th December 1911 in Falkirk, Scotland, the eldest child of Moses later John and Janet Hendry (nee Wright). His father was a coal miner. Less than a year after James’ birth, the family emigrated to Canada. From a young age, due to the kilt he wore as a child, he was given the nickname “Scotty”. Jim attended Elementary and Secondary schools in Cobalt, Ontario, and then went on to the Haileybury Mining School, where he studied mining practices, ore dressing (processing) and metallurgy. He later took courses on Land Surveying and Electrical Engineering.
Following the depression in 1929, James gained employment in the gold mines, which were booming in Kirkland Lake. James worked at Teck-Hughes Gold Mine as an underground miner. He later worked at MacLeod and Little Long Lac mines. James met Mary McEwen, a nurse at Little Long Lac Hospital, and they got engaged. They considered marriage before James enlisted but decided to postpone until his return. Sadly, it didn’t happen.
James travelled with his brother Bob to Toronto to join up with the Royal Canadian Engineers. They went to see Camp Borden in the spring of 1940 for basic training then in September to Halifax, Nova Scotia and embarkation on a troop ship to England.
For the last few months of 1940, he was stationed in Southern England with #1 Tunnelling Coy engaging in training and various duties. There was a planned transfer to #2 Tunnelling Coy in Gibraltar, but in January 1941, there was a change of plan and a move to Loch Laggan, Scotland, where a mining project was in the pipeline. They were to construct a two mile long tunnel underground through the Precambrian rock hills of the Grampian Highlands.
On 13th June 1941, James came out of the tunnel to find the powder house on fire. Shouting a warning, he then ran out to warn the compressor man and the steel sharpeners in the workshop nearby. Although he could have got himself clear, he then went to the powder house to try to put out the fire. Others were also in danger, and, if the magazine blew up, the resulting damage would have stopped work for some time. There was an explosion in which Hendry was killed, but his warning helped to save the lives of many men.
On 2nd April 1943, the London Gazette published the citation for the award of a posthumous GC for James Hendry. James was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking, Surrey. His GC was presented to his parents by the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa in the autumn of 1943. His medals including the GC, Defence Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp and War Medal 1939-45 are held by the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM, OTTAWA, CANADA.
BURIAL PLACE: BROOKWOOD MILITARY CEMETERY, WOKING, SURREY.
Cemetery Photo courtesy of Kevin Brazier