Warren Henson

Also known as: Les.

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Flight Lieutenant
Warren John ‘Les’ Henson 22/09/1924 – 15/08/2001

Warren, otherwise known as ‘Les’, joined the Royal Air Force after apparently ‘amending’ his birth certificate in 1941. After basic training he was put onto a flying training programme, initially as a pilot, but had difficulty in landing the aircraft. He was subsequently re-graded to navigator status which he qualified for in 1942.

From then until the end of the Second World War, he flew on 38 operations over Germany or German held territory mainly in Handley Page Halifax four-engine bombers with 51 Squadron based in Yorkshire. He proved to be a most professional navigator, guiding his aircraft and crew safely back home.

After the European conflict was over ‘Les’ went to Canada to fly Liberators against Japan, but the dropping of the atomic bombs put a stop to hostilities. He was then transferred to Transport Command where, on Avro Yorks he flew over 300 trips on the Berlin Airlift between Gatow and Wunstorf.

‘Les’ was then transferred to 9 Squadron where he was one of the first to fly the Canberra bomber. He was engaged in operations in tests over Christmas Island in the early 1950’s and indeed flew through the gas cloud on the hydrogen-bomb tests. During the Suez crisis flying from Cyprus, his aircraft was engaged in several ‘passes’ by opposing fighters against the unarmed bomber.

With the introduction of the V Force he was again at the forefront, being one of the first crews to fly them. Over the years on Canberras and Victors he flew in many contests against the Americans, where his crew won most of the time. He was also a navigator-instructor on the Avro Vulcan.

With the run-down of the V Force and a brief spell as Operations Officer in El Adam, Libya, he transferred to a communications squadron flying from Andover on Pembrokes and Devons. He finally finished after 40 years of flying with the Royal Air Force and was indeed the last airman still flying that had flown on operations in WW2.

During his career, ‘Les’ met and married the very lovely Mary Lawson who provided him with three sons.

Added by: Anthony Henson on 28th August 2010.


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