John Murdoch Henderson (1902-1972)
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"Student's Fall Over Rocks"
From the Press and Journal, 1925


A serious accident, which occurred at the Bay of Nigg, near Aberdeen, on Saturday, serves as another reminder to holiday-makers that the rocks which skirt the bay, though picturesque, are dangerous. The victim of the accident, who now lies in a critical condition in the Infirmary, is a young University student, Mr John M Henderson, who hails from Nether Oldwhat, New Deer, and resides in lodgings at 36 Summerfield Terrace, Aberdeen. He is a fifth year Arts and Science student. It is understood that Mr Henderson was searching for botanical specimens, when he fell over a cliff.

The accident occurred at Gregness, almost at the south end of the bay, at a point where the sea has cut out a deep gully and where a rocky cliff rises 40 feet high at the end of a miniature peninsula. The young man was seen walking along the top of the shore cliffs about 8 o'clock in the morning by Mr Henry Joyce, coast guardsman. It was two hours later before it became known that anything was amiss.

Cries for Help.
At 10 o'clock a young lady - Miss Archibald, who resides in Mount Street, was walking along the top of the cliffs, when she heard someone moaning and calling feebly for help. Running along to where a grass-topped natural bridge connects the ridge of rocks with the beach cliffs, she found a comparatively easy descent, and scrambling along as fast as she could, she came upon Mr Henderson lying in a pool of blood on a sloping ledge. Evidently he had just recovered consciousness. The girl tried to move him into a comfortable position, and filling her hat with water, she washed the blood from an ugly wound in his forehead. She then scrambled up the way she had descended and ran to the coastguard station with news of the accident.
Mr Joyce, accompanied by two joiners who were engaged on repair work at the coastguard station, hurried to the scene of the accident, which was only about a hundred yards away. The beach cliff at the spot is 70 feet high and it was impossible to say whether it was from it, or from the somewhat lower rock at the other side of the gully, that the student had fallen. Mr Joyce at once saw that the young man was in a serious condition and that for the rescuers to scramble up the rock with him would be a dangerous expedient. Accordingly, he ran back to the station for some ropes and a "bo'sn's chair," which was lowered from the top of the beach cliff.

Hauled Up Cliff Side.
Mr Henderson was set in the chair, lashed securely to the ropes and hauled up over the cliff. A number of men, who had been attracted to the spot by observing that something unusual was going on, assisted in the operation and some of them stood on the steep side of the rock and prevented Mr Henderson from being dashed against it as he swung in mid-air.
Meantime Mrs Joyce, the coastguardsman's wife, though only a few days convalescent after a severe illness, ran all the way from the station to the Girdleness Lighthouse to telephone to Aberdeen for an ambulance. The St. Andrew's Ambulance was promptly on the scene and Mr Henderson was removed to the Royal Infirmary, where it was found he had sustained fractures of his jawbone, both his wrists and one of his ankles, besides a severe cut on his forehead and several other cuts and bruises.
On inquiry at the Infirmary last night, it was learned that Mr Henderson, while progressing as satisfactorily as could be expected, was still in a critical condition.

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