On Parade with Five Generations of a Family at War; the Military History Student Who Is All Set to Become the Latest in a Long Line of Archie Hendersons to Serve Queen and Country

By Brocklebank, Jonathan | Daily Mail (London), June 29, 2002 | Go to article overview
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On Parade with Five Generations of a Family at War; the Military History Student Who Is All Set to Become the Latest in a Long Line of Archie Hendersons to Serve Queen and Country


Brocklebank, Jonathan, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: JONATHAN BROCKLEBANK

THERE was, of course, no pressure on young Archie Henderson to join the Army - even though his father Archie served in Ulster, his grandfather Archie in World War II, his great-grandfather Archie in the First World War and his great-great-grandfather Archie in the Boer War.

It was entirely young Archie's decision what to do with his life. But at the age of 17 his mind is made up.

He is going to become the fifth successive Archie Henderson in his family to fight for queen (or king) and country. The teenager's career decision came after he discovered his remarkable military pedigree, stretching back to his kilted and ferocious looking great-great-grandfather who joined the Black Watch before the Boer War.

Every generation since the original Archie Henderson - born in 1854 - has produced an eldest son who was christened Archie. And when the time came, every Archie served his country in conflict.

The youngest Archie has now produced an exhibition called Archies in Action which celebrates the exploits of his ancestors through more than 100 years of military history.

Now he is determined to keep the family tradition alive for at least one more generation by embarking on a career in the forces.

He said: 'I've always been thinking about joining up.

Since I left school it's always something that I've thought about. But after I discovered my family's past and more about my great-great-grandfather it's something that I am determined to do.

'I will join up but I'm going to wait until I'm 20 and then join the infantry. My family think it's great, especially my father. He's been quite interested in our family history for years and looked back as far as he could.

'But I've actually found out a little bit more than he knew in the first place. It's a bit strange really, but I suppose it's keeping up with tradition.'

ARCHIE left Paisley iGrammar School ilast year and took iup a Modern Apprenticeship in Cultural Heritage at Glasgow University's Hunterian Museum.

There his painstaking research into his family's military background began as part of his qualification but ended with a momentous career decision.

The first recorded Archibald Henderson was born in Tiree in 1854 to the son of a crofter called Hector. That Archie moved to Glasgow with his wife Christine, and settled in the Govan/ Ibrox area where the Hendersons have lived ever since. Young Archie said: 'I didn't know much about him so I sent a copy of his picture to the National War Museum in Edinburgh and someone there identified his uniform as being from the Black Watch Volunteer Unit.'

The original Archie Henderson saw out most of his military career in peacetime and by the time the Boer War broke out in 1899 he was considered too old for the front line. It meant he escaped one of the most calamitous defeats in British military history.

Archie said: 'He was 45 when the Boer War began and was too old to be sent out to fight so he didn't go to South Africa and stayed in Scotland as part of the home defence.'

His advanced years probably saved his life.

While he remained on home soil the Black Watch marched to ignominious defeat at Magersfontein, becoming sitting ducks for the well-camouflaged Boers.

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