Housewife : Flight Lieutenant A J Henry, 103 Squadron Royal Air Force

Accession Number REL/13351
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Cotton drill, Metal, Oxidised brass, Plastic, Wax, Wood
Maker S.S. Holden Ltd
Place made Canada
Date made 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Khaki cotton drill roll-up housewife (sewing kit) with three internal pockets. The housewife is stamped on the inside with '1941 S.S.HOLDEN LTD. OTTAWA. CANADA.', and on the outside with a broad arrow within the letter 'C'. When rolled up it is secured with a length of white tape sewn to one end of the housewife. The pockets contain a cube of wax in a small cotton bag to strengthen thread, a length of rank insignia stripes, two small oxidised brass eagle badges, a small oxidised king's crown badge, Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon bar, spool of khaki and white thread, an empty wooden spool, three snap fasteners attached to a piece of cardboard marked 'WAR ECONOMY PACKAGING', and a collection of 16 buttons including a small brass RAAF button showing an eagle and crown, two small oxidised RAAF buttons showing an eagle and crown, one large and two small alloy RAAF buttons showing an eagle, two white plastic buttons, six black buttons and two brown buttons.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of 421680 Flight Lieutenant Arthur John Henry, born 30 March 1915 in Weabonga, NSW. Henry enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Reserve on 3 June 1941. He then transferred to the RAAF on 28 February 1942 with the rank of aircraftman II. He was promoted to leading aircraftman on 20 June and trained as aircrew with 8 Elementary Flying Training School, Narrandera. On 2 November Henry embarked for Canada where he was attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force and undertook further training, qualifying as a pilot and promoted to sergeant on 28 May 1943. In June he embarked for the United Kingdom and was attached to the Royal Air Force (RAF). On 23 March 1944 Henry was commissioned pilot officer, and posted to 103 Squadron, RAF in July. Two of Henry’s younger brothers, 423731 Flight Lieutenant David Alexander Henry, DFC and 428847 Flying Officer Gaven William Henry, also served as pilots with 103 Squadron. They were known around the base as Henry Mk I, Mk II and Mk III, and all took part in a 1000-bomber raid on Cologne on the night of 30 October. Henry was posted to 13 Base, RAF in November where he served as a test pilot. After being promoted to flight lieutenant, Henry left the United Kingdom on 9 March 1946 flying a RAF Avro Lincoln bomber as part of a development flight which traveled to Malta, Egypt, Persia, India, Burma and Singapore before reaching Laverton, Victoria on 26 March where the aircraft was presented to the RAAF. He was discharged on 28 May. Henry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945. The citation reads ‘This officer joined his present squadron in 1944, and has since completed an outstanding tour of operational duty. His skill was demonstrated on the first sortie as captain of an aircraft, when his aircraft was attacked and severely damaged by an enemy fighter. The rear gunner was gravely wounded and Flight Lieutenant Henry, despite the damage to instruments and controls, chose a short but extremely hazardous route back to base in order to obtain speedy medical attention. Undeterred by this harassing experience, Flight Lieutenant Henry has continued his tour of duty with a series of attacks on very heavily defended targets and has always displayed coolness, courage and determination.’. After the war Henry became a flying instructor with the Tamworth and Newcastle Aero Clubs. In 1949 he enlisted in the Permanent Air Force Reserve, retiring from service in November 1960. His other brother, Henry Mk IV, 20178 Corporal Ronald McEwan Henry also served with the RAAF as a fitter with a flying boat station.