WW1 Alumni

Henson, DS

Douglas Sydney Henson

1st City of London Volunteer Aid Detachment, Red Cross

Douglas Sydney Henson was a student at Alleyn’s until 1914 and lived with his father, a commercial traveller, at 6 Elmwood Road, Herne Hill. He joined Alleyn’s on September 13th 1909 and was a proud member of Spurgeon’s for which he was a House Prefect in 1914. He also took an interest in sport while at school and was a goalkeeper for the 2nd XI until he left in 1914. After leaving Alleyn’s, Douglas found work as a clerk with Cooks Tourist Agency and remained there until May 1915 when he decided to join the war effort at part of the Red Cross London branch Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD). These branches were made up of men and women who carried out a wide range of voluntary duties including nursing, transportation, first aid in the field and stretcher bearing as well as ensuring the organisation of rest stations, working parties and axillary hospitals. These men and women came to be known simply as ‘VADs’ and were often sent overseas in the war to work as orderlies and transport officers. The importance of the jobs being carried out by VADs in wartime inspired a a number of people to volunteer for the Red Cross including famous crime writer, Dame Agatha Christie, writer and peace campaigner, Vera Brittain and the novelist and essayist, E. M. Forster. During his time as VAD, Douglas trained as a stretcher bearer and driver for the London Ambulance Column and was engaged until the end of the war in 1918.

After the end of the conflict, he moved from Elmwood Road to 28 Forest Ridge, Beckenham. He kept up strong ties with Alleyn's throughout his life and became a Life Vice-President of the Old Boys Cup, representing AOBs in 1964.