Arthur Minion Christian – a true hero

In WWI, our community had many that went off to war and truly were heroes. Just putting your name on a document agreeing to go and fight for our future made everyone a “hero”.

BUT Port Elgin had a young man named Arthur Christian who just may have been the biggest hero that went to that war from Port Elgin. He left his job as a railway brakeman and enlisted at Hamilton Ontario on April 15, 1915, and went overseas, arriving in England on June 28, 1915. On October 22, 1915, he was at the front in mainland Europe with the 3rd Division, Machine Gun Corps.

The group saw the fiercest battles over the next year and on September 26, 1916, Arthur truly had a heroic day. The fighting had been vicious and violent in Belgium close to the French border.

It is best to quote from the “Canadian Virtual War Memorial” tribute to Arthur to tell the facts of what happened that day. See the following.

“The Military Medal, service medals, and Memorial Cross awarded to Sgt. Arthur Minion Christian, Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

His Citation for the Military Medal: For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on Sept. 26, 1916.

After the rest of his gun crew had been killed or wounded, he continued to carry out five orders alone under very heavy shell fire:-when reinforcements went up to take over the gun, he still remained, taking charge of the new crew, though instructions had been sent that he might return. During the actions of September 26th and October 1st, and throughout the full seven days that the company was in the field he displayed the greatest capability in the handling of his gun crew and his behaviour under exceptionally trying circumstances was most exemplary.”

The Port Elgin Times published the following story on December 16th, 1916.

“Corp. A. Christian – Gets Military Cross

For Bravery, while operating a machine gun and holding a German attack column from advancing, in a vicious fight on the Somme, on September 26th, Arthur Christian of Port Elgin has been given the Military Medal.

Along with this medal comes a promotion in rank and he has been made a Corporal in his Machine Gun Squad.

Corp. Christian has been in some of the fiercest battles since July 1st and up to now has only been wounded slightly. A letter in last week’s issue from Arthur to his mother here showed to be standing the strain splendidly. In a previous letter, he gave some descriptions of the offensive, but as a rule, says little about the part he takes himself.

The fact that he has been singled out for what he has done will be received with satisfaction by Arthur’s host of friends.”

Following the battle, he was promoted from Lance Corporal to full Corporal on October 17, and then on December 12th, 1916, he was again promoted, this time to full Sergeant.

Very sadly, a year later, in the horrible Battle of Passchendaele, Sergeant Arthur Minion Christian was shot and killed on October 24, 1917.

The following is from the Port Elgin Times dated November 14, 1917.

“Word was received by Mrs. Christian that her son Arthur had been killed in France. Sergeant Christian won the Military Cross for Bravery with his Machine Gun Company. He was an employee with the Stephens-Hepner Co. and a young man well-known and well-liked. He was one of the first volunteers and has served through all the big battles, finally laying down his life in the principles of justice and democracy.

He is buried in the large Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, in Section XIV, Row C Grave 6. There are 3614 soldiers buried there with 451 being Canadians.

photo submitted

I am sure that we all agree, he was truly a HERO.

Researched and written by: G. William Streeter April 16, 2024