Percy Henderson died on 15 November 1918 at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton of influenza while he was recovering from wounds received in action. He was aged 24. He is buried at Hamilton East Cemetery, Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton.
Percy was born at Blenheim on 23 May 1894. His parents were Minnie Ann Goertz and John Henderson. His father was employed by the Post Office and was transferred to Tauranga as chief clerk after Percy's birth. He was then appointed Postmaster at Maketu but died shortly afterwards and Minnie Henderson took charge of the Post Office. Percy attended Maketu School where he excelled, winning an Education Board Class B junior scholarship (open to pupils in schools with 100 or fewer pupils) at the end of 1909. This enabled him to attend Auckland Grammar School. He continued to perform well academically and passed matriculation and the solicitors' general knowledge examination in January 1911.
Henderson began to study law through Auckland University College in 1911. He was articled to the firm Johnston, Coates and Fee (now Johnston Prichard Fee). He was a keen cricket player, playing in the Churches' Association competition for several years for St Mary's.
As soon as he had passed his final law examination, at the beginning of 1916, Henderson enlisted. His employers presented him with a memento and he travelled to Trentham Camp to begin training. His medical examination showed he was 5 foot 9 tall (1.75 metres) and weighed 161 pounds (73.3 kg). He received specialist training, with the 18th Divisional Signallers.
Henderson embarked as a Private with the Signallers on 11 October 1916. He arrived at Plymouth in England on 29 December 1916 and proceeded to Sling Camp. He was sent to Codford on 3 April 1917, where he was posted to 16 Company of the 3rd Battalion Auckland Regiment. He was posted to Battalion Headquarters on 22 May and left for France on 28 May.
His unit was sent to the front line and he was badly wounded on 13 June 1917. A German hand grenade exploded while he was in trenches at Le Baizel. He lost his right eye, his left arm was broken and he received multiple wounds to his face and upper body and right thigh. Henderson was evacuated a day later and he was placed on the Dangerously Ill list. He was sent to hospital in Boulogne and on 6 August he was removed from the list of those dangerously ill. He was transferred to the New Zealand Hospital at Walton in England on 12 August. A Medical Board classified him as unfit for active service on 9 October 1917.
Henderson was evacuated to New Zealand on the Maheno, arriving home on 31 January 1918. His treatment continued as an outpatient at Auckland Hospital. A medical examination on 12 March found that most of his injuries had healed, and the army supplied him with a duplicate artificial eye. He was formally discharged from military service on 16 April 1918 as "no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action."
As soon as he was discharged, Henderson resumed his law career. On 22 April 1918 he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New Zealand by Justice Hosking on the application of Dr HD Bamford. He moved to Hamilton where his married sister was living and set up in practice. In November, weakened by the wounds he had sustained, Henderson was one of many New Zealanders who caught influenza. He died in Waikato Hospital on 15 November. Just two days later his sister also died from the disease.
Sources: Auckland Star, 25 January 1903, page 3; Bay of Plenty Times, 29 January 1908, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 18 January 1910, page 3; Auckland Star, 21 October 1910, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 20 January 1911, page 7; New Zealand Herald, 27 October 1911, page 8; New Zealand Herald, 18 December 1913, page 9; New Zealand Herald, 22 December 1915, page 5; Bay of Plenty Times, 29 May 1916, page 2; New Zealand Herald, 23 April 1918, page 6; Marlborough Express, 25 November 1918, page 8.
This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.
By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: firstname.lastname@example.org.