Lawrence Alexander (Alex) HENDERSON (1896-1981), known to us as Uncle Hendy would have loved what Anzac days have become: the march with his mates, the lunch at the pub, telling stories, playing two up and probably a few songs or a bit of music.
Uncle Hendy was a bit of an Aussie larrikin, well a lot of a larrikin really. He was always teasing and joking with us kids, playing the spoons or a gum leaf, and often the fool. He was married to my Auntie Doff, (Dorothy Louise FITTS 1895-1993) my grandfather’s big sister and a gorgeous little lady who outlived all her 7 brothers and sisters and their spouses.
Auntie Doff really loved her Hendy, telling me "don't rush into getting married", that she "got married well into my forties and still had over forty years of wonderful married life". Great advice! Taken!
They didn't have children of their own. They did have us, and quite a few others from Auntie Doffs days on children’s country radio shows as Margot.
Uncle Hendy had signed up for WWI pretty much as soon as he could, enlisting in the Light Horse on Australia Day 1915 at the age of 18. Lucky for us, he got ill (jaundice and appendicitis) and his embarkation for Gallipoli was delayed until June – so many lads did not return.
And of course, in keeping with his larrikinism, his most serious injury during wartime was a broken leg from playing football! There was an inquiry into the accident with quite a number of witnesses.
Uncle Hendy had claimed:
I was playing football on the afternoon of 10/10/17 in a match between 3rd Signal Troop and Brigade Scouts. I was bending down to pick up the ball and came into collision with one of the Scouts, he stood on my leg and broke it.
There were four witnesses in all, each with varying stories as to how close other players were to him and what he was doing at the time of the break.
Witness 1: There was a man within two or three yards of him.
Witness 2: Two players were within three to four yards of him
Witness 3: There was a man within two yards of him
Witness 4: He took the ball and turned as if to run with it…broke his leg while turning.
In the summing up, it was ruled: the injury was purely accidental and no blame attachable to anybody.
Seems like a lot of fuss and protocol for a few lads letting off steam in a football match.
In October 1918, he applied for leave to go to Australia for three weeks for “family reasons” and because “I have not previously had long leave”. It was recommended but he had to sign two statements:
I certify that in the event of my furlough being granted I will not apply for an extension of leave.
In the event of this application being referred to Defence Melbourne I will pay the cost of cabling both ways.
These days, it seems a bit steep to ask these things as by this time, he had been overseas for more than three years, and signed up for almost four – such a long time without a long break.
When he returned from the war (in Jan 1919), he worked in the Merino-Henty area of Victoria as a station hand. It looks like he married and his wife died in 1942. He then married Auntie Doff in Dec 1943 in Ballarat. When I knew them, they lived in Main Ridge on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, then in Rosebud.