Arnold Louis Christian's Biography

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Title

Arnold Louis Christian's Biography

Description

A biography written by his grandson, covering from 1929 to 1941.

Temporal Coverage

Coverage

Language

Format

Two printed sheets

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Contributor

Identifier

SChristianAL29160v10037-0001, ChristianAL29160v10037-0002

Transcription

ARNOLD LOUIS CHRISTIAN

Grandpa’s early life has been covered, such as is known, in earlier narratives in this history. From here it will be covered from 1929.

Around this time he was in Newcastle Upon Tyne to investigate the possibility of opening a second branch of the family motor business and it was here that he met grannie, (Catherine Allan Cordner). Grandpa was lodging in the house of a friend of grannie’s grandmother – also called Catherina Allan Cordner. The story from grannie herself is that she had been ill and that she needed gentle exercise in the form of walking and outside air to aid recovery. It was suggested by grandpa’s landlady that he would prove a suitable walking companion for grannie. Gt. Gt. Grandma Catherine thought him such a nice young man that no chaperone would be needed at any time they were together.

While in Newcastle, grandpa entered a newspaper competition the first prize for which was a flying lesson. He duly won the competition and the flying lesson prize. From then on flying it was to be and he left the family business to join the Royal Air Force as a pilot.

After initial entry training at the RAF training depot, RAF Uxbridge, London, he was gazetted into the RAF in October 1930. From there it was to No 3 Flying Training School at RAF Grantham, Lincolnshire for pilot training. After successfully graduating with his ‘wings’ from Grantham, he was posted as a fighter pilot to No 54 Fighter Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, Essex in September 1931. On 27th September 1932 he married grannie at St. Marks Church, Birkenhead. A year later their first child, Brian was born at Hornchurch followed just over eighteen months later by their second, Derek, also at Hornchurch. Grannie told me the story of when, while at RAF Sealand, she and grandpa held a dinner at home for fellow squadron officers. One of these was a chap called John Grandy who, upon arriving late for dinner at the front door asked how he could atone. Grandpa jokingly said he could ‘crawl the path from the front gate to the front door and beg (grannie) for forgiveness.’ This Grandy proceeded to do. This very junior officer ended up as Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Grandy, Knight of the Order of the Bath, and who held such posts as Chief of the Air Staff, Governor of Gibraltar, and Governor & Constable of Windsor Castle.

During the 1930’s air displays at Hendon Aerodrome drew large crowds. Grannie told me tha [sic] grandpa was involved in some of these while based at Hornchurch, often doing the aerobatic elements of the displays. For a period of eight months between 1935 and 1936, grannie and grandpa were separated when grandpa was sent to the then British Protectorate of the Sudan in support of Britain’s peacekeeping and security role. That must have been quite tough on both of them but especially grannie with two very young children. Back in England, grandpa was posted to No 218 (Bomber) squadron at RAF Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire and it was here, in June 1937, their third child, June Margaret, was born. At the time grandpa was away at the RAF Central Flying School, RAF Upavon, Wiltshire, where he was completing flying instructor training. His next main posting was to No 5 Flying Training School at RAF Sealand in Nth Wales, where he was a flying instructor commanding No 5 flight at the school. At the end of his time at RAF Sealand he was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to RAF Debden near Saffron Walden in Essex. Next, in September 1939, it was to RAF Bicester in Oxfordshire where the family moved into 556 Banbury Road, Oxford. This was to be home for the next twenty years or so before a short move to Woodstock Road, Oxford.

In October of 1939 grandpa acted as navigator on the maiden flight of a new heavy bomber, the Handley Page Halifax. He also flew as part of the crew on a number of further test flights conducted at Bicester. From October 1939 to April 1940 grandpa was Officer Commanding ‘B’ Flight with No 104 squadron at Bicester and, from April 1940 to November 1940 was first an instructor and then Chief Flying Instructor, on No 13 OTU, (Operational Training Unit), also at Bicester. A good friend, contemporary and his predecessor as Chief Flying Instructor was Squadron Leader Sam Elworthy. This officer also went on to have a most illustrious career becoming a Marshal of the RAF, Chief of the Defence Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, Knight of the Garter and, eventually, receiving a peerage as the Baron Elworthy. Grannie can be forgiven for feeling that life had not been fortunate for her and grandpa, which she indicated to me on one occasion, when compared to the success of some of his juniors and cotemporaries, and which too could have been grandpa’s had he been lucky to survive. On 25 November 1940 he was posted to No 105 Squadron, an operational Blenheim bomber squadron at RAF Swanton Morley, near East Dereham, Norfolk. On Christmas Eve 1940 he was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander and became the commanding Officer of the squadron.

Grandpa, commanding an operational squadron, flew a number of operational sorties and these included attacks on Boulogne, night operations against Hamburg and against enemy airfields. On 5th May 1941, grandpa led a number of aircraft from RAF Swanton Morley to RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth in Scotland. The squadron had been tasked to carry out anti-shipping operations against the enemy operating along the Norwegian coast and RAF Lossiemouth was the nearest airfield to this target area. On the 8th May, with five other aircraft, grandpa lifted off and turned east for the

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enemy coast at Stavanger, Norway. He didn’t return from this last operation and his aircraft was last seen off the Norwegian coast with its port, (left), engine in flames. The action claimed one German submarine hunter, UJ 173 sunk and another, UJ 179 damaged. Grandpa’s aircraft was believed hit by German minesweeper M84.

Arnold Louis Christian – RAF Career Dateline

10 Oct 1930 – 24 Oct 1930 – RAF Depot, RAF Uxbridge, for initial entry to the Royal Air Force.
24 Oct 1930 – 22 Sep 1931 – No 3 FTS (Flying Training School), RAF Grantham, Lincs, for pilot training.
22 Sep 1931 – 19 Sep 1935 – No 54 Fighter Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex.
20 Sep 1935 – 14 Oct 1935 – No 207 Bomber Squadron, RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk, for embarkation to Sudan.
15 Oct 1935 – 31 Jan 1936 – No 207 Squadron, Ed Damer, Sudan.
01 Feb 1936 – 29 Aug 1936 – No 4 Air Patrol, Atbara, Sudan.
30 Aug 1936 – 27 Sep 1936 – No 207 Squadron, Worthy Down, Wiltshire.
28 Sep 1936 – 21 Oct 1936 – RAF Depot, RAF Uxbridge.
22 Oct 1936 – 25 Apr 1937 – No 218 Light Bomber Squadron, RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire.
26 Apr 1937 – 10 Jul 1937 – CFS (Central Flying School), RAF Upavon, Wiltshire, for Flying Instructor Training.
11 Jul 1937 – 20 Sep 1937 – No 6 FTS (Flying Training School), RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire for Instructor consolidation.
21 Sep 1937 – 20 Nov 1938 – No 5 FTS, RAF Sealand Flintshire, Nth Wales. Flying Instructor.
21 Nov 1938 – 19 Sep 1939 – Station Headquarters, RAF Debden, Essex. On promotion to Squadron Leader.
20 Sep 1939 – 02 Oct 1939 – No 108 Squadron, RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire.
03 Oct 1939 – 07 Apr 1940 – No 104 Squadron, RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire.
08 Apr 1940 – 24 Nov 1940 – No 13 OTU (Operational Training Unit), RAF Bicester, as Chief Flying Instructor.
25 Nov 1940 – 08 May 1941 – No 105 Squadron, RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk, promoted to Wing Commander 24th Dec, as Commanding Officer.

8th May 1941 – Posted as missing in action off Stavanger, Norway, presumed killed.

Citation

“Arnold Louis Christian's Biography,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 26, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/36292.

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