Brigadier Sir Mark Henniker CBE DSO MC

23 Jan 1906 - 18 Dec 1991

  • Distinguished Service Order medal
  •  Military Cross medal
  • CBE medal
  • Italy Star medal
  • France and Germany Star medal

Mark Chandos Auberon Henniker was the son of Frederick Henniker and Ada Henniker (nee Howell) and was born on 23 January 1906 at Minehead, England.

He was educated at Marlborough College and The Royal Military Academy Woolwich and Kings College Cambridge.

Commissioned into The Royal engineers in 1926, he served in India with the Bengal Sappers and Miners mostly on the NW Frontier. He won an MC in 1933 during one of the campaigns in the area.

Posted back to Great Britain, he was a Captain and Adjutant of the 2nd Divisional Engineers in Aldershot in 1939 and deployed as part of the BEF. In France, he commanded 253 Field Coy, RE and successfully returned that unit back to Britain in 1940.

He was appointed Lt Col CRE in Oct 1941 as part of 'The Dungeon Party' forming the 1st Airborne Division and devised the policies and plans for the use of airborne engineers within an airborne force. This also included providing planning for the engineering elements of both Op Biting and Op Freshman. For Freshman he flew on one of the test sorties.

He completed Parachute Course No 3 at RAF Ringway in December 1941.

In April 1943 Lt Col Henniker moved to North Africa in preparation for the Op Husky. Henniker himself travelled by Glider on the operation as part of HQ 1st Airlanding Brigade. Despite being wounded by shrapnel and breaking his arm, the unit he was with captured an Italian Coastal Battery and took over 90 Prisoners of War.  Commandeering an airborne engineer with a motorcycle, Henniker made his way to Porte Grande to ensure that the demolition charges had been removed.  He then joined up with the landing force and made his way to assist in the relief of the 1st Parachute brigade at Primosole Bridge.

During the Italian Campaign, he was instrumental in the clearing of mines and the docks at Taranto. He, along with his adjutant, assisted with the rescue of men from the HMS Abdiel, using a small dinghy.

Posted out of Airborne Forces on his return to Britain, he became CRE for 43rd Wessex Division. As part of this unit, Henniker found himself responsible for efforts to cross the Rhine at Arnhem, and the subsequent evacuation of his former comrades in 1st Airborne Division. For this operation, he was awarded a DSO.

Post War he continued to serve, including and India, 1946-1947; Commander, 63 Gurkha Infantry Bde, Malaya, 1952-1955; Brig, 1955; Commander Royal Engineers, 1 British Corps, Egypt, 1956; retired in 1958 and then Honorary Col, Parachute Engineer Regt, 1959-1968; Honorary Col, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1964-1968.

A prolific writer, he wrote a number of books. Publication of Memoirs of a Junior Officer (William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1951); publication of Red shadow over Malaya (William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1955) and publication of Life in the Army today (Cassell and Co, London, 1957) and An Image of War, Leo Cooper Ltd, 1987.

He was married to Lady Denys Henniker.

Brigadier Henniker died in 1991 and is buried in St Peter's Church, Llanwenarth Citra, Abergavenny.

Information taken from his bio held in the Airborne Assault Archives and correspondence with Leo Cooper Ltd on the clearance of his book in 1987.  

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Service History

Lt Col Henniker MC at Syrencote House in 1942

Group photos_1

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