A book was written about his life in 2008 as a boy parachutist in the Wehrmacht between 1943-45. He and I sat down together over a period of three months to document his remarkable story.
The title of the book is "Boy Parachutist 1943-45". Harry's mother was English, married to a German officer. They spoke English at home whenever dad was away, which was often. This e-book can be attained at bushorchestra.com
Harry Henkel saw military service in North Africa, Catania (Sicily), where he was wounded and convalesced back in Germany. He spent time in recovery training new recruits. Eventually he was reassigned and ended up in Italy fighting both at the invasion at Anzio and Monte Cassino. Here was wounded again and repatriated to hospital back in Germany.
He was part of the contingent of paratroopers led by Otto Skorzeny that rescued Mussolini on 12 September 1943 (see photograph) and eventually ended up on the Russian Front as Germany collapsed.
He escaped an SS hunt and then again escaped to the Americans over the Elbe River as the war ended. As he was fluent in English he was soon in the employ of the Americans as a translator engaged in various tasks in office duties and driving American and English military and public dignitaries.
This is the role he played during the Nuremberg Trials and was present when the condemned Nazi leadership were hung. He experienced the Berlin airlift of 1948 and eventually decided migration was a good option, finding his way to Australia in 1952.
Born in 1926 and leaving Germany in 1952, the greater part of Harry Henkel's life has been as an Australian citizen. When he retired, remarkably after 30 years in the Australian Navy rising to the rank of Commodore, commanding the submarine that is on view at Darling Harbour.
There's a first! A Wehrmacht boy parachutist to an Australian Navy Commander.
Harry Henkel became a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ in 1985, when he was 59 years of age. Harry Henkel has bought his strength of character and good humour to his Christian walk and is a friend of wisdom to everyone he meets. Myrner his wife of 28 years and equally loved by the congregation, is the effervescent type.