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Online Cenotaph

Arnold George Christensen

  • Service number
    NZ413380 AWMM
  • Also known as
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Last rank
    Flight Lieutenant/Military AWMM
    Royal New Zealand Air Force, 26 Squadron, RAF AWMM
  • War
    World War II, 1939-1945 AWMM
Portrait Arnold George Christensen (NZ413380), (kindly provided by Howard Buxton 2013) - This image may be subject to copyright
Portrait Arnold George Christensen (NZ413380), (kindly provi … Read more


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Arnold George AWMM
  • Surname
    Christensen AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    NZ413380 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Date of birth
    8 April 1922 AWMM
  • Place of birth
    Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand AWMM
  • Birth notes
    Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand AWMM
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs L. Christensen (mother), 813 Dufferin Street, Hastings, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
    World War II, 1939-1945 AWMM
  • Campaign
    Europe (Air) AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Air Force AWMM
  • Service number
    NZ413380 AWMM
  • Military service
    Royal New Zealand Air Force, attached Royal Air Force AWMM
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • 1939-1945 Star AWMM
      MiD citation: In recognition of distinguished service and devotion to duty. Awarded posthumously for his escape from Stalag Luft III POW camp on 24/25 March 1944. AWMM
    • Defence Medal AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 with oak leaf AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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  • Embarkation details

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    WW2 POW - Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany AWMM
    Germany AWMM
    Pilot in support of Operation Jubilee, Dieppe, France (the Dieppe Raid), shot down. AWMM
  • Days interned
    19 August 1942 AWMM
  • Liberation date
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed or died while a Prisoner of War, Cause of Death AWMM
    Shot by the Gestapo after escaping from Stalag Luft III POW Camp AWMM

Last known rank

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  • Last rank
    Flight Lieutenant/Military AWMM
    Royal New Zealand Air Force, 26 Squadron, RAF AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • On the night of 24 March 1944 he escaped from Stalag Luft III in the Great Escape. Using a tunnel named Harry (it was the third attempt - the Germans had discovered Tom and Dick), 220 men attempted to escape, but the tunnel had come up short of the trees they were heading for, and only 76 men got clear.

    He was one of the 50 recaptured airmen shot by the Gestapo on the orders of Adolf Hitler, the Fuhrer of Nazi Germany. Three of those executed were from New Zealand: Flight Lieutenant Christensen (NZ413380), Flying Officer Porokoru Pohe (NZ402894) and New Zealand born Squadron Leader John Williams (40652), an Australian citizen serving with the Royal Air Force. Of the other 23 men recaptured, 15 were returned to Stalag Luft III and 8 were held in concentration camps. Only three of the original 76 escaped POWs got completely away to England.

    Flight Lieutenant Christensen's escape attempt almost succeeded. After travelling several hundred kilometres across hostile enemy territory, whose citizens were on the alert for the escaped airmen, he was recaptured and shot with three companions close to the border of Germany and neutral Denmark.

    When news of the executions reached England the British Government resolved to bring the culprits to justice once the war had ended. However by the time the hunt for those responsible started, Hitler and most of the other high ranking Nazi officials were dead. Ultimately several Gestapo officers were executed or imprisoned for this war crime.

    An article in the Herald on 22 May 1944 reads as follows: THREE NEW ZEALANDERS - TRIBUTE TO BRAVE MEN Wellington, Saturday

    "The acting Prime Minister, the Hon. D.G. Sullivan, stated today that the Government had been advised that among the air officers who had been shot in Germany were two members of the RNZAF, Flying Officer Porokoru Patapu (John) Pohe, of Taihape, and Flight-Lieutenant Arnold George Christensen, of Hastings, as well as one other New Zealander, Acting-Squadron-Leader J.E.A. Williams, whose next-of-kin is in Australia, and who was serving with the RAF. In every case the next-of-kin had been informed of the position."

    "The Government is deeply shocked at the incident" said Mr Sullivan, "and I join with all citizens of New Zealand in expressing sympathy to the next-of-kin of these brave men who, served by a strong sense of duty, were making every effort to escape and rejoin their colleagues in the fight against Nazi tyranny."

    Because of the number of POWs involved and the tragic aftermath, the Stalag Luft III escape is a well documented part of World War 2 history. Popularly known as "The Great Escape" it has been the subject of books and a 1963 Hollywood movie.

    The men were shot, then cremated and later their ashes reburied at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland.

    Next of kin details compiled from information in the Casualty lists published in the newspapers. The information on the display relating to the Great Escape at the Museum of Allied Prisoners of War, Zagan, Poland in 1996 contained errors for Christensen - both his name and nationality did not conform with details supplied by the New Zealander who returned nor with the information in the New Zealand Herald of 22 May 1944. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery was originally called Schneidemuhl Prisoners of War Cemetery. Mrs Florence, daughter of Neil Hyland Svendsen (RAF 40327) a POW in Stalag Luft III, visited Poland in 1996 with her family. Her photographs on this Cenotaph record, relate to the experience and remembrance of the POWs imprisoned there. AWMM
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About death

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  • Age at death
    21 AWMM
  • Date of death
    29 March 1944 AWMM
  • Cause of death
    Killed or died while a Prisoner of War AWMM
  • Place of death
    Germany AWMM
  • Death notes
    Germany AWMM
  • Cemetery name
    Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland AWMM
  • Grave reference
    Collective grave No. 9, A. AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference
  • Obituary

Roll of Honour

Remember Arnold George Christensen by laying a poppy.

Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Arnold George Christensen

Leave a note

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  • BUCK
    Arnold has made his dash for the clear
    Away from the brush,Stalag a sneer.
    Ploughing the snow branches whipping bow
    It's now the wild,the Luftwaffe howl they know!
    Running as squat a kiwi tucked his wings
    Christensen fearing,over lands the coldness clings.
    The Gestapo hunting in row disfavour;malice near gleaning no savour.
    Tiresome his way lines Danish the border
    Our capture as four,tautly no quarter.
    Catanach,Espelid,Fugel song friends;pointing now a turning bend
    Rotenhahn fielding final our fanning end.
    I can vision my land,passing southern so pure!
    Feelings of doom sadly our sure
    Oh God deliver us,your eternal light a cure.

    Copyright:N.J.Deller 29/10/16 "73 years foreshortened our stance
    remembered the airmen boldly advance."
    Public - Nathan John - 17 August 2017
  • He was fondly remembered by my father as his favourite cousin. He was only 21, bless him.
    Public - James Armstrong - Other Relative - 6 May 2015
  • Today I visited Sagan and stalag luft three. I was amazed and honoured to learn of the brave exploits of this fellow kiwi from my home town Gone but Never forgotten
    Public - Dave - 25 March 2015



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  • External links
  • Documents
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
    • Hanson, C. (2001). By such deeds: honours and awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923-1999. Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
    • The Weekly News AWMM
      Weekly News, 1944 AWMM
    • Banks, Sylvia. Papers relating to World War II Pilot Officer Alan Edward Woodford ('Peter') Day. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 2005/33. AWMM
      There is a reference to Arnold in the letters (8 August 1942) file AWMM
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
      Vol. 1 p. 238, vol. 2 p. 204, vol. 3 p. 128 AWMM
    • Hanson, C. (2001). By such deeds: honours and awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923-1999. Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
      Hanson, C. (2001). p. 123 AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      Roll of Honour, Died while Prisoner. New Zealand Herald, 19 May 1944 AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      Three New Zealanders: tribute to brave men. New Zealand Herald, 22 May 1944 p. 4 AWMM
    • This record is a work in progress and was partially compiled from the “Database of New Zealand Airmen who took part in Advanced Air Training in Canada during WW2”. Researched by Ivan and Lorna Lindsey of Tauranga. N.Z. 2003 – 2012. Reproduced with permission. AWMM


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17 August 2017Nathan JohnHettstedt GermanyOther
06 May 2015James ArmstrongLondon, UKOther Relative
25 March 2015DaveHastings , England/ Hastingsv, New ZealandOther