Thorarinn Finnbogason & Bjorn "Bud" Christianson

Arm in arm, Christianson carried the wounded soldier across the cacophony of mud away from the front, perhaps saving young Finnbogason's life.

“Please help me! I’ve been hit! I cannot stand!” pleaded Thorarinn Finnbogason from across the battlefield in Arras, France, 1918. He struggled—vulnerable on the terrain. His leg was bloody; it had been hit by incoming German artillery. Bjorn “Bud” Christianson, a fellow Canadian, heard the cries. Arm in arm, he carried the wounded soldier across the cacophony of mud and dirt away from the front, perhaps saving young Finnbogason’s life.

But the men were not strangers. No, in fact, Christianson and Finboggason knew each other very well. They were born in different towns but spent their youths in Langruth—a small fishing community on Lake Manitoba. Finnbogason’s daughter, Joan Hedrick said, “they all signed up in the same regiment, very lucky they got to go together.” Shirley Christianson, Christianson’s granddaughter, added, “the Icelandic boys supported one another, they were very clan-like”

Bjorn Christianson was a private, born October 23, 1892. He enlisted on April 29, 1916. Finbogasson was slightly younger, born in August 22, 1894. He enlisted April 14, 1916.

The 223rd Battalion was composed almost entirely of young men from the Interlake region of Manitoba, many of them sons of Icelandic immigrants. The men fought with the 27th Battalion overseas and participated in the Battle of Passchendaele.

Christianson received the Military Medal for his heroic efforts during this brutal bloodbath. “I heard that he had captured a German machine placement all by himself. I think that was the reason he was awarded the medal,” his daughter, Hope Carroll, recalled.

Christianson wrote frequently to his loved ones in Manitoba. He had a good sense of humor. In a letter home to his girlfriend Inga, who would later become his wife, he wrote, “I can’t tell you when I am going to have any picture taken, but will do so some time soon and will have it not very big so that you can put it in a frame and also that it will not be so noticeable.”

Finnbogason received news about life in Langruth from his mother. Perhaps the gang huddled around him in the dark trenches, as he whispered stories of home. “Here everything is well, enough food and money so if you hear otherwise, do not believe it, as it is not true.”

The men survived the war and returned to their home province. Finnbogason's leg was amputated once in England and then again in Halifax, following the incident in Arras. “My father never let not having a leg stop him from anything he wanted to do,” Hedrick said of Finnbogason. “He was a kind person; he owned a store in Amaranth, Manitoba during the Depression. People would come and he would give credit. He was unable to keep open afterwards.”

Christianson died suddenly at the age of 64 in 1956. More than 20 years later, Finnbogason followed.

Bjorn and Thorarinn knew one another’s families well and remained close friends for all their lives.

Do you have an ancestor who served in the Great War? Submit their story and it could be included on this Great War Album website.