105 Squadron and Arnold Christian

SChristianAL29160v10070.jpg

Title

105 Squadron and Arnold Christian

Description

A brief biography of Arnold and his time with 105 Squadron.

Language

Format

One typewritten sheet

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Rights

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

SChristianAL29160v10070

Transcription

Wing Commander Arnold Louis Christian, RAF, was posted missing as the result of air operations against enemy shipping in the area of Stavanger harbor, Norway, on Thursday 8th May 1941 and later, for government purposes, presumed killed in action as a result of those operations.

At the time of his death he left a widow, Catherine Allan Christian, less than one month past her 30th birthday, and three young children under the age of eight – Brian Arnold, Derek Allan & June Margaret.

As the Commanding Officer of No 105 Bomber Squadron he was responsible for some 20 Bristol Blenheim mark IV bomber aircraft each with 3 crew members, plus the associated ground crews. The squadron was part of No 2 Group, Bomber Command, the only major command in the British forces at that time capable of, and so instructed by Winston Churchill, to take the war directly to the enemy.

During the latter part of 1940 the squadron, which was based at RAF Swanton Morley, near East Dereham, Norfolk, was carrying out night bombing operations against enemy aerodromes in occupied Europe, and against other targets including Hamburg & Boulogne. In early 1941 No 2 Group was tasked to concentrate on attacking enemy shipping and coastal targets in Western Norway and the Heligoland Bight area of Germany & Holland.

As a result, the Commanding Officer of 105 Squadron had to rapidly retrain his crews to convert from medium level night bombing of land targets to low level daylight bombing of shipping – sometimes down as low as 50 feet above sea level. It was a wholly new discipline for the crews. The Blenheim aircraft were already obsolete and not satisfactory for the task but were all the nation and the air force had for the job. In early May 1941, 105 Squadron temporarily detached from its home base at Swanton Morley and relocated to RAF Lossiemouth near Elgin on the Moray Firth, Scotland, so that they could be closer to enemy targets in Norway.

At 05:10 on Thursday 8th May 1941, six Blenheim aircraft of 105 Squadron led by their CO lifted from Lossiemouth and turned east for the Norwegian coast at Stavanger. To the crews, that area was known as Beat 2 and their job was to attack any enemy shipping found there. Three aircraft at the northern end of the beat area returned to Lossiemouth having found no shipping. The remaining three aircraft, one being that of the CO, found a convoy of 20 ships, including six flak ships, at the southern end of the beat area and the engagement began. After the attack, the CO’s aircraft was seen to have been hit, with the port (left) engine ablaze, and descending toward the surface. Witnessed by a Norwegian fisherman, Herr Leidland, it crashed into the sea at the entrance to the Hardangerfjiord to the north of Stavanger. The same fisherman recovered a flying boot from one of the crew, Flight Sergeant Hancock, (it had his name in it), and handed it over at the end of the war. Nothing else was recovered from the crash area. The remaining two aircraft returned safely to Lossiemouth.

The CO of 105 Squadron was a regular RAF officer having joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot in 1930. He had flown aerobatics in some of the popular Hendon air displays of the 30’s, and in 1935 was sent to Atbara in the British Protectorate of Sudan for 9 months during the insurrection there.

In October 1939 he was the navigator on the maiden flight of the Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber from RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire, and carried out further trials with the aircraft.

In 1940 he was twice mentioned in dispatches to HM King George VI for gallant and distinguished action.

Bomber Command losses were disproportionately high with No 2 Group losses the highest within Bomber Command. Of all major British commands, Bomber Command lost the most men at some 55000+. Of these, 20000 including the Commanding Officer of 105 Squadron, Wing Commander Arnold Louis Christian, have no known resting place. His name, along with those others, is inscribed at the Royal Air Forces Memorial, near Runnymede.

Citation

“105 Squadron and Arnold Christian,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 31, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/36451.

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