Cardston sent many young men overseas to aid in the fight against the Nazis during the Second World War. Some did not come back, some proved to be heroes, and all served their country and risked their lives. Others not only served their country, but also made news around the world with their exploits.
One such person was Flight Officer Dick Christie who was flying over Berlin on Jan. 30, 1943 in his Boston bomber when he helped to interrupt the speeches of two Nazis. It wasn’t just any Nazis either, but leading members Herman Goering and Josef Goebbels.
His eventful day didn’t end there. After the first raid, the planes went back over for their second bombing. While no planes went down in the first raid, five were lost in the second raid. Christie’s plane had plenty of its own scars but luckily, he made it back alive from the bombing.
When asked about the bombings, Christie would say, “if only I had nine lives, I could have some fun over there.”
So, who was Dick Christie?
He was born to Ryerson and Ada Christie, who had become engaged in 1910 to when they married in 1917. His father Ryerson had been born in Quebec and had worked on the Trans Continental Railway Commission as a cache keeper, before becoming a farmer. Eventually, he took up a residence in the Cardston area. At the time, he was employed with the firm of Driscoll and Knight Land Surveyors.
Why are we delving into Dick’s father’s life? For this reason. Dick Knight, co-owner of the company, was held in such high regard by Ryerson that when Dick Christie was born, he was given the name of the employer. It was also Dick Knight that encouraged Ryerson to go to university and take civil engineering. He would travel to Toronto and do just that.
Dick Christie was born just a few blocks away from the church and would begin his education at the Chief School near Twin Lakes. He would receive his high school degree and was one of the first young men from Cardston to enlist to fight in the world.
Eventually, Dick Christie would heed the call of going overseas and that leads us to the above story. That wouldn’t be the only time Christie was mentioned in dispatches either. He was able to bring his heavily damaged bomber back to friendly territory after bombing a power station in Lille, France. According to Gordon Scott, a Canadian Press correspondent who saw the plane, ‘that kite had no business returning. Sadly, that same year he would lose his life as a member of the RCAF in July of 1943. At the time, he was involved in bombing raids in Germany and Italy when he was reported missing.
A memorial service would be held later, and it was announced by Reverend McKelvey that in honour of Dick Christie, the church would have a new pulpit Bible. The Bible, along with a song book, was sent to the church by Christie’s aunt in Toronto.
John Dewar described Christie as a person who died so that others could live. He said he had excellent quantities and ‘the fine Christian training he received at home.’
Flight Officer Blackburn of the MacLeod fight school provided messages of sympathy from the officers and men at the flight school.