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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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26 Squadron Crest
19th August 1942 No. 26 Squadron Mustang Ia AL977 PO. Christensen

Operation: Jubilee

Date: 19th August 1942 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 26 Squadron 35 Wing (motto: N Wagter in die Lug - 'A guard in the sky')

Type: Mustang I

Serial: AL977

Code: RM-?

Base: RAF Gatwick, Surrey

Location: Target area

Pilot: P/O. Arnold George Christensen NZ413380 RNZAF Age 21. PoW No: 676 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 08:00 hrs with one other from the Squadron, both were shot down during the armed reconnaissance.

P/O. Christensen was taken PoW. During the great escape from Stalag Luft Sagan in 1944, he was one of the 50 that were caught and murdered by the Gestapo on the 29th March 1944 - he was shot with three others at Rotenhahn near Kiel. Then taken to Kiel to be cremated with his ashes returned to the camp at Stalag Luft Sagan.

On July 1, 1947, 18 defendants in the Sagan case went on trial at the British Military Court in Hamburg charged with committing war crimes by killing and ordering to kill prisoners of war who had escaped from Stalag Luft III. All the defendants pleaded not guilty. Four were charged with the murder of PO. Christensen: Johannes Post, Hans Kähler, Oskar Schmidt, Walter Jacobs. All were found guilty and executed at Hameln prison on the 27th February 1948.

The Squadron suffered heavily during this operation, the others lost:

21 year old, Sgt. Geoffrey Denys Maynard 1271760 RAFVR Flying Mustang Ia AG584 - missing believed killed.
21 year old, Fl/Lt. Graham Newstead Dawson DFC. 44183 RAF Flying Mustang Ia AG418 - missing believed killed.
Fl/Lt. Donald Newton Kennedy 43959 RAF Flying Mustang Ia AG536 - killed.
P/O. Edward E. O'Farrell 108142 RAFVR Flying Mustang Ia AG463 - PoW No 663 Stalag Luft Sagan.

A great deal has been written regarding this operation but we include a description from Wikipedia:

The Allied air operations supporting Operation Jubilee resulted in some of the fiercest air battles since 1940. The RAF's main objectives were to throw a protective umbrella over the amphibious force and beach heads and also to force the Luftwaffe forces into a battle of attrition on the Allies' own terms. Some 48 fighter squadrons of Spitfires were committed, with eight squadrons of Hurricane fighter-bombers, four squadrons of reconnaissance Mustang Mk Is and seven squadrons of No. 2 Group light bombers involved. Opposing these forces were some 120 operational fighters of Jagdgeschwader 2 and 26 (JG 2 and JG 26), the Dornier Do 217s of Kampfgeschwader 2 and various anti-shipping bomber elements of III./KG 53, II./Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG40) and I./KG 77.

Although initially slow to respond to the raid, the German fighters soon made their presence felt over the port as the day wore on. While the Allied fighters were moderately successful in protecting the ground and sea forces from aerial bombing, they were hampered by operating far from their home bases. The Spitfires in particular were at the edge of their ranges, with some only being able to spend five minutes over the combat area.

The raid on Dieppe saw the baptism of fire for the new Spitfire Mark IX, the only British fighter that was equal to the Fw 190 fighter. Six squadrons, four British and two Canadian were flying the new Spitfire Mark IX at Dieppe. During the battle, the RAF flew 2,500 sorties over Dieppe, and achieved a narrow victory over the Luftwaffe.

The intense air fighting prevented the Luftwaffe from making major attacks on either the landing or the evacuation of the Allied forces, who consequently did not suffer very much from attacks from the air. However, in achieving the goal of the "greatest air battle" that would cripple the Luftwaffe over France, Operation Jubilee was less successful. During the air battles over Dieppe, the Royal Air Force lost 91 aircraft shot down and 64 pilots (17 taken prisoner, the rest all killed) while the Royal Canadian Air Force lost 14 aircraft and nine pilots. Additionally, the British lost six bombers over Dieppe. The Luftwaffe lost 48 aircraft, another 24 seriously damaged with 13 pilots killed and seven wounded.

However, RAF intelligence at the time claimed that the Allies had shot down 96 German aircraft, thus winning a major victory. In reality, the Luftwaffe in France was back to full strength within days of the raid. In an assessment, Copp wrote that Dieppe failed to register the knock-out blow against the Luftwaffe that the RAF was seeking. But Copp further noted that even though the Allies continued to lose on average two aircraft for every 1 German aircraft destroyed for the rest of 1942, the superior economic productivity of the aircraft industries of the United States, Britain and Canada combined with the better pilot training programme of the Allies led to the Luftwaffe gradually losing the war of attrition in the skies above France. Copp concluded that: "The battle for air superiority was won many fronts by continuous effort and August 19, 1942 was part of that achievement".

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Arnold George Christensen MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave 9A. Born on the 08th April 1922 at Hastings, the son of Mrs L. Christensen, 813 Dufferin Street, Hastings, New Zealand. 300 flying hours logged and on his first operational sortie.

Others mentioned in this report:

Sgt. Geoffrey Denys Maynard. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 80. Son of Thomas James Cliff and Ada Amelia Cliff, of Dagenham, Essex.

Fl/Lt. Graham Newstead Dawson DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 65. Son of Walter and Lillian Sarah Bawden Dawson, of Bromley, Kent.

Fl/Lt. Donald Newton Kennedy. Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery. Grave D.3. No further details - are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Traugott Vitz and the Vitz Archive. Also to Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Howard Buxton for portrait photograph, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 22.03.2019

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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