(316338) Lieutenant James Douglas Henry
Royal Engineers and Long Range Desert Group
Died 26th August 1943 Age 38 Years
(Article by Mike Booker)
James Douglas Henry attended Rhodes and Cape Town Universities and qualified in survey. He first worked in the Rhodesias with the Aircraft Operating Company - Involved on ground survey duties in the Zambezi and Kafue River valleys. Later he formed a partnership in Bulawayo and undertook professional surveying assignments. After some five years he joined the SR Survey Unit and played a major role in the mapping of some 9000 square miles of the Northern Frontier district of Kenya - this was to prepare accurate maps for the allied troops advancing up into East Africa. After a short spell with 7th KAR he moved to the East African Engineers as a Captain. Obviously seeking to utilize his survey skills he then transferred to the LRDG with a voluntary drop in rank to Lieutenant. He did much of the early route finding and drawing of maps.
On 20th February 1943 near Tozeur in Libya there was a misunderstanding with another Free French Army convoy and a firefight ensured. Jim's jeep driver was killed and he was wounded. Jim was airlifted to Tripoli and later moved to the 15th Scottish Hospital in Cairo. He had severe spinal wounds and succumbed to these on 26th August 1943. Jimmy was later awarded the Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. The Rhodesian authorities sent his campaign medals to his father in Cape Town. (1939-45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal) The Rhodesian authorities issued medals engraved with name, rank and unit for casualties - Jim's medals have his unit as LRDG.
It would be interesting to know if 'Henry's Gap' still exists - this was named after Jim. From an original letter of Kennedy-Shaw dated 15th September 1945.'Yes we called 'Henry's Gap' after your son”.At Kufra in the Autumn of 1942 we wanted to send patrols westwards through the Harug el Aswad to get at the Italian lines of communication Murzuk-Sebha - Hon.' Jim worked out the line and was credited with it being named for him.