Service Number: 417371
Enlisted: 25 April 1942, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Flying Officer
Last Unit: No. 460 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Renmark, South Australia, 2 October 1923
Home Town: Loxton, Loxton Waikerie, South Australia
Schooling: Renmark Primary School and Renmark High School
Occupation: Horticulturist
Memorials: Renmark - WW II Honour Rolls HB06*
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World War 2 Service

25 Apr 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2, SN 417371, Adelaide, South Australia
1 Jun 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 417371, No. 460 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
22 May 1945: Honoured Distinguished Flying Cross, Air War NW Europe 1939-45, "Skills and fortitude in operations against the enemy"
3 Jan 1946: Discharged Flying Officer, SN 417371

Father and Son - from Veterans SA 'Think Piece' Sep 2016

‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous? Mademoiselle from Armentieres parlez vous? And ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile’…

These were the popular pieces I remember my father singing as he worked on his fruit block at Renmark in South Australia. Often the lyrics changed to whistling as the familiar strains of ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ echoed over the rows of vines.

My father had not long returned from the devastation of WW1, when he set up a Soldier Settler block in the Riverland, along with countless other returned servicemen. His memories of Gallipoli and the battlefields of the Western Front were still vivid, and the marching tunes sung by AIF men still came often to the fore back in Australia. Soon too he had a young English bride to care for, and in the fullness of time, three young children. The newly established vines needed constant attention, the horses needed care, and the house was gradually being added to, as the children grew. So the life of Tom Hendrick was a busy and productive one.

The most highly anticipated day of the year at Renmark was ANZAC day. This day was celebrated by the entire town. The children of Renmark delighted in watching their fathers march proudly in their hundreds, medals gleaming and jangling, along the main street of Renmark. Then the famed bicycle races were held. The main race, the RSL Wheel Race, was the highlight, with 10 laps of the oval, and prize money of 5 pounds. The bikes in the ‘20s and ‘30s had no gears and no brakes, and could not freewheel, so the frequent crashes of bikes added to the excitement for the young watchers.

In the local river towns, settled by a vast majority of servicemen, it was to be expected that when WW2 broke out, many young men and women would volunteer, as their fathers had done 25 years earlier. When I reached my eighteenth birthday I enlisted, although my father strongly advised me against joining the Army! I also had heard enough to know the drawbacks of life as a soldier. The Air Force, however, appealed to me, having read as a boy the W.E. Johns’ Biggles books and having been fascinated by the heroic pioneering flights of aviators like Kingsford Smith and Amy Johnson, as well as being caught up in the famous London to Sydney Air Race which captured the nation in 1936. It wasn’t long before I left Renmark with many of my mates, to begin training with the Royal Australian Air Force as Air Crew.

And so I come to some extraordinary and remarkable coincidences. Due to the first and second World Wars, my father’s life and mine ran parallel over many years.

At the age of 18 my father volunteered and joined the Australian Army. I too, twenty five years later at the age of 18 volunteered, but joined the RAAF.

At 19, my father was sent to Gallipoli. Again, twenty five years later at 19, I was sent to England for further training as a pilot.

At 20, Dad, having survived Gallipoli, was sent to the battlefields of France to help repel the German army. At 20, as a Lancaster pilot I was part of Bomber Command, targeting military installations in Germany.

At 21, my father was awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry at Bullecourt in France. At 21, twenty five years later, I too was awarded the DFC for ‘Consistent Gallant Conduct.’

At 22, my father, sent on a course to England, met and fell in love with a young girl from Bristol, and later married her when she came out to Australia. At 22, I met a WAAF girl while in England, and later married her. She too came to settle in Australia.

Both my father and I took up Soldier Settler blocks in the Riverland, bringing up our children in the peaceful environment there; enjoying the lifestyle on the land.

While to me there are almost incredible parallels, our wartime experiences had some significant differences.

Enduring the most confronting situations was my father’s lot in life for 4 years. Eating a poor diet for months on end, sleeping in often muddy, rat ridden dugouts, with a constant barrage of explosions, took its toll on the bravest. The fighting was conducted man to man, with rifle and bayonet. In contrast, my wartime daily life was more comfortable as we lived in a house, were fed well, even with wartime restrictions, and enjoyed some social life.

For me all flying operations were dangerous with flight durations being anything from 4 to 9 hours, mostly at night. Over enemy territory, constant watch had to be kept for enemy aircraft, ground gunfire, search lights, and to avoid collisions with our own bombers. To add to the danger, all craft had to fly in total darkness. The sight of Lancaster bombers on fire, and spiralling downwards, added to the fear and sense of uncertainty. But, along with the necessary skills, there was always a certain amount of luck involved in surviving.

On reflection I realise my crew of seven, who trained with me and flew with me throughout the war, supported me and enabled us as a crew to survive; so too dad’s mates in the platoon were crucial to his wellbeing and chances of survival.

My dad and I were both very fortunate to survive the wars, and, like my father, I became a soldier settler in the Riverland. My family tells me they could hear me singing as I pruned the vines, ‘This is the Army Mr Jones’, and ‘I’ll be comin’ round the mountain’, and at times whistling Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’ – off key, so my wife told me!


Lost in fog - October 1943

Lost in fog – October 1943

Having decided to transfer to Bombers we went to Andover, an AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) where we did a three-week course of ground studies, a refresher course mainly of navigation, meteorology and aircraft recognition for English conditions. That was from 19 September 1943 to 10 October 1943. Following this we went to AFU Ramsbury, Wiltshire, where we started our conversion to multi-engine aircraft, by learning to fly Airspeed Oxfords.

This is where I became lost on my first cross country flight. When I saw the barrage balloons looming around me I realised that I was in a prohibited area so I turned on a reciprocal course and landed at the first aerodrome that I saw, an American aerodrome. Other pilots had the similar troubles.

A P-47 Thunderbolt fighter landed after I did, piloted by a Norwegian ferry pilot who had beetled in from Scotland. I has seen this Thunderbolt whistling around the airfield just after I had landed, and as it came to the tarmac, I expected to see a big burly pilot get out, but I couldn't believe my eyes - out gets this little girl, golden hair streaming, and a face that looked as though she was about sixteen. I stood there in amazement - I was mortified.

This little girl seemed no bigger than a school kid, I couldn't believe that she had flown it. She had flown 300 hundred miles from Scotland and I had got lost in 30 miles.

It wasn't until after I talked to her in the watch tower that I learned that she had come from Scotland and that she was going back by train to bring another one down, which she did about every second day.

I was fog-bound there for a week but it was a pleasant week as the Americans had all sorts of food that was unheard of in war-time England, steak, eggs, chocolate, chicken, turkey, ice-cream, and so on.

excerpt from Howard Hendrick's memoirs - submitted by Peter James-Martin


Still Flying - Loxton Aero Club

Our esteemed eldest member Howard Hendrick turned 90 years old in October (2013),
and members helped Howard celebrate with a birthday cake in the club rooms
on the following Sunday. On his birthday, Howard took to the air in the Jabiru
for his regular flight with Instructor Tim Laidler. …. Go Howard !!! Keep flying.

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Howard Hendrick was born on 2 October 1923, the son of a soldier settler , Tom Hendrick, and his English war bride who had taken a solder-settler's fruit block in South Australia's Riverland.

He attended primary and secondary school at Renmark

At the age of 18 he joined the RAAF with early training at Victor Harbor, Parafield and Deniliquin.

Having obtained his 'wings' he was posted to England to replace lost Australian pilots.

Although Howard had been trained as a fighter pilot, he saw that the need now was for bomber pilots to fly Lancasters and Halifaxes in the European war zone, so retrained as a bomber pilot. Posted to 460 Squadron, which was made up of Australian pilots and crews from the Dominions, Howard completed 30 raids (a tour of ops) with the same crew.

His next role was as a Flying Instructor until the end of the war.

After the war, wanting to keep flying, Howard completed further training to become a commercial pilot with British Airways where he flew scheduled routes between London and Johannesburg and Sydney.

After four years with BA, Howard returned to Australia to take up a Soldier Settler block in Loxton, where he and his family worked and resided for more than 60 years.

Finally retiring at aged 86 Howard is a regular guest speaker at Loxton High School, and has had his recollections recorded on ABC Radio, with these oral histories part of the South Australian State Library collection. On Australia Day this year, Loxton Waikerie District Council named him Loxton Citizen of the Year 2016. At 92, Howard still enjoys a monthly Jabiru solo flight (with the relevant ‘restrictions’) at his local Aero Club.