M*A*S*H episode
“The Trial of Henry Blake”
The trial of Henry Blake
Henry, with Radar, defends himself against charges pressed by Frank Burns and Margaret.
Season 2, Episode # 8
Number (#32) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Jamie Farr
William Christopher
Robert F. Simon
Bobbie Mitchell
Roy Goldman
Hope Summers
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: K408
Writer(s) McLean Stevenson
Director Don Weis
Original airdate November 3, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB The Trial of Henry Blake
Episode chronology
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"L.I.P." (K406) "Dear Dad...Three" (K409)

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(broadcast order)

"Kim" (K407) "Dear Dad...Three" (K409)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 2 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

The Trial of Henry Blake was the eighth episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 32nd overall episode of the series. Written by McLean Stevenson and directed by Don Weis, it originally aired on CBS-TV on November 3, 1973.


Col. Blake attends a hearing to consider whether he should be court-martialed for allegedly sending medical supplies to North Koreans, among other charges. Frank Burns (in temporary command) confines Hawkeye and Trapper to quarters, but both manage to escape and present evidence to exonerate Henry. They convince Frank to drop the charges using the only method they know - blackmail.

Full episode summaryEdit

Henry and Radar, in their dress uniforms, leave on a trip to HQ, but don't say why. Meanwhile, Frank is walking around with a nasty grin on his face, and when Hawkeye and Trapper mouth off to him, he warns them that he might soon be in charge, so they better knock it off.

At HQ, we see why Henry and Radar are there - Henry is on trial, after charges were filed by Frank and Hot Lips. The trial is led by General Mitchell (Robert F. Simon) with Major Murphy and Captain Fox.

Examples of Henry's supposed lack of leadership are read out, including when he was the announcer for a race involving doctors pushing nurses on gurneys for Kentucky Derby Day; when he allowed Radar to hawk Style-Rite wingtip shoes to everyone in camp; and when Klinger nearly went AWOL, via a hang-glider that he hoped would sail him out of Korea.

Henry doesn't deny these events, but says it doesn't mean the 4077th isn't doing its duty.

Gen. Mitchell is unimpressed, and places Henry under arrest. He tells Henry that he should have Cpl. O'Reilly head back to camp to collect material to defend Henry against the most serious of the charges - providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

Radar makes it back to camp and tells Hawkeye and Trapper what's happened. They plan to prepare a defense, but Frank has Hawkeye and Trapper placed under house arrest in a gutted Swamp wearing just their skivvies. When Klinger brings in their meals, Hawkeye and Trapper manage to secretly tell Klinger to drug the M.P. guarding them, allowing them to escape and head off to HQ; Frank and Margaret pursue them in another jeep.

In the meantime, Henry is accused of faking requisitions and then channeling supplies to Meg Cratty, an American nurse who lives and operates a clinic inside North Korea, but who doesn't ask people's politics when they need help. Henry, again, doesn't deny the charges.

Gen. Mitchell tells Henry that given Henry's admission, he has no choice but to recommend court-martial. Henry simply offers "I was just trying to help." Just then, Hawkeye, Trapper, and Radar arrive, along with Meg Cratty (Hope Summers). Nurse Cratty gives a forceful speech to Gen. Mitchell and the rest, and as an example brought along a young pregnant woman, who is alive because of Henry Blake's charity. She says Henry Blake "is a caring, decent man, which is more than I can say for any of you high-priced bellhops."

Empowered, Henry makes a speech of his own, saying he is guilty only of trying to do what's right and help people in need. He counter-charges that his actions improved the life expectancy of the infants in the region. He then says that no money ever changed hands and he never deprived the wounded GI's of anything, and that he "never set out to be a junior General MacArthur" but was only trying to run a hospital. He finishes by saying that they could "hang my butt from a flagpole."

Frank and Margaret arrive just as Gen. Mitchell reverses his decision and concludes that there is insufficient reason to proceed with Henry's court-martial. He then says that he is willing to drop the charges, but Frank and Margaret have to agree to it; Frank naturally refuses until Hawkeye decides to show Frank "some new evidence" scribbled on a sheet of paper, which causes Frank to quickly change his mind.

Frank and Margaret storm out, while General Mitchell invites everyone for a drink. When Henry asks what this new evidence is, Radar finds the crumpled sheet of paper and reads it aloud: a note addressed to Mrs. Burns telling her that her husband, of whom she is so proud, is frequently out of uniform ... and perhaps she would like to know with whom.

The trial is over, and an exonerated Henry returns to the 4077th with Gen. Mitchell. The whole camp turns out in formation to greet them ... wearing Style-Rite wingtip shoes.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Frank could also be charged later for obstructing justice by impeding witnesses, but Henry probably didn't know the system or the regulations well enough.
  • In this episode, Radar is wearing an enlisted man's dress peak hat. This hat, according to regulation, was only to be worn during formal events stateside. Radar should be wearing a garrison cap like Henry.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit