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From the classroom to the trenches-Sir Arthur Currie

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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Nov 2006 16:00    Onderwerp: From the classroom to the trenches-Sir Arthur Currie Reageer met quote

Sir Arthur Currie (December 5, 1875 - November 30, 1933) forged Canada's military reputation for tough resourcefulness - after first teaching elementary school in Sidney

It's a long way from a rural Sidney classroom, teaching children their ABCs, to the war-torn trenches of Europe. But that is the path travelled by one of Canada's most revered military leaders.

Canadian war hero General Sir Arthur William Currie had an influence on the early lives of the children of Sidney as a teacher at the first elementary school in the emerging town in 1894.

The Saanich school district was formed in 1872 to serve the area's 42 children. It encompassed all of South Saanich and portions of North Saanich. The Township of Sidney was incorporated by the Brethour family in 1891 and the first elementary school in Sidney was built in 1894 near the intersection of what is now Fourth Street and Brethour Avenue.

While his history as a teacher here is documented, little is known of Currie's early life in Napperton, Ont. where he was born in 1875 and raised on a farm. At the age of 19, he moved to Victoria and began his teaching career in Sidney. He taught at the Sidney school from 1894 to 1896, then moved to the Victoria school district. He left teaching to begin a career in insurance and real estate in Victoria in 1900.

Currie married Lucy Sophia Chaworth-Musters, the daughter of an English Army Officer, at St. Saviour's church in Victoria in the summer of 1901.

Currie joined the 5th Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery (Active Militia of Canada) as a gunner in the early months of 1897. At the time, many young men joined the militia as a social club. Currie's association with the militia in Victoria would return to haunt him after the war. He rose through the ranks with the 5th Regiment and left them to assist in the formation of the 50th Regiment, Gordon Highlanders of Canada in 1913.

When war broke out across Europe in 1914, an eager Currie volunteered for duty overseas.

He was promoted to the rank of colonel in January 1915 and to brigadier-general that March.

His brigade took part with the 1st Canadian Division in the Battle of Ypres in April, 1915. It was the first battle during the war in which the Germans used poison gas. The gas affected soldiers' lungs and eyes causing breathing difficulty and blindness. Heavier than air, the chlorine followed the contours of the ground and sank into the trenches and shell holes soldiers used as protection. This forced them to abandon their defences and climb out of trenches where they became targets for German artillery.

Currie was able to move his troops into a threatened position so that the Canadians, in their first major battle, held the line against many times their numbers. More than 2,000 Canadians lost their lives in the battle and more than 6,000 were injured.

It was the bloody battle of Ypres that inspired John McCrae, brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery, to write his famous poem, "In Flanders Fields," in 1915.

For his work in connection with the battle of Ypres, Currie was awarded the KCB (The Most Honourable Order of the Bath - Knight Commander), and the Legion d'Honneur Commandeur.

Currie remained in command of the 1st Division until June 1917, taking part in the battle of Mont Sorrel in June 1916, the Somme in September and October 1916, Vimy Ridge and Arleux in April 1917, and Fresnoy in May, 1917.

Currie is credited as the mastermind behind the Canadian forces' successful capture of Vimy Ridge, which marked a turning point in the war as well as pivotal point in defining Canada as a nation.

In June 1917, General Currie earned the promotion to commander of the Canadian Corps. He remained in command until it was demobilized at the end of the war. The Corps took part in all the principal battles including Hill 70 in August 1917, Passchendale in October and November 1917, Amiens in August 1917, Arras in August and September 1918, Cambrai in September and October 1918, Valenciennes in November 1918, and Mons on Nov. 11, 1918. The Corps gained a reputation for never failing to take its objective, never losing a gun, and of never being driven from an inch of ground once taken.

Currie was awarded the KCMG, (The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George - Knight Commander), the French awarded him a Croix de Guerre with palms, and the Belgians conferred the Grand Officer de I'Ordre de la Couronne and the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the American Distinguished Service Medal.

Despite his acclaim as a distinguished soldier and true Canadian war hero, Currie was involved in a scandal from his time living in Victoria before the war began. He was suspected of defrauding his regiment of $10,000. According to some reports, the money was used to buy new uniforms for his troops. In other accounts, Currie is accused of taking the money to cover his own personal debts. The information on the theft did not come to light until 1917, well after Currie had made a name for himself as a military commander. History records that Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden did not wish to disgrace the war hero and let the matter drop without further investigation.

In 1927, the Port Hope Evening Guide, a Cobourg, Ont. newspaper, reported that Sam Hughes had accused Currie of being just as much of a "butcher" as General Doug Haig, the commander of the ill-fated British forces at the horrific Battle of the Somme. Currie sued the newspaper for libel and won the case in a trial held in 1928 in Cobourg.

Following the war, Currie served as inspector general of the Canadian militia for a short time, then became Chancellor of McGill University in Montreal in 1920. He died on Nov. 30, 1933.

In the fall of 2004 Currie was ranked number 24 on CBC's The Greatest Canadian poll. He is sandwiched between Maurice "Rocket" Richard at number 23, and Nellie McClung, number 25.

Currie's last recorded visit to the west coast was in 1931 when he came to Victoria from the Orient on the Empress of Japan.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Nov 2006 16:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Who's Who: Sir Arthur Currie
Updated - Friday, 14 December, 2001

General Sir Arthur William Currie (1875-1933), despite a popular reputation among his troops as 'Guts and Gaiters' (on account of his supposedly aloof manner), was a capable Canadian army commander who enjoyed a consistently successful run of victories throughout the war.

Born on 5 December 1875 at Napperton in Ontario, Currie was an insurance broker and estate agent before war broke out - and liable to be prosecuted for embezzlement until a group of friends mounted his financial rescue in 1914. Prior to the outbreak of war Currie served as a militia officer in British Columbia.

With his name made following his conduct as GOC 2nd (Canadian) Brigade during 1914-15, notably during the first German gas attack at Second Ypres, he was handed charge of 1st (Canadian) Division during 1915-16. Again impressing with his sure-footed command and meticulous attention to detail, Currie was promoted GOC Canadian Corps with the elevation of Sir Julian Byng to command of Third Army in June 1917. He was the first Canadian to be promoted to General rank during the war.

More an army than a corps, the Canadians enjoyed an unbroken run of success during Third Ypres and during the so-called 'Hundred Days' in 1918. Increasingly the Canadians were at the forefront of the BEF's efforts.

Largely responsible for the planning and execution of the success assault against Vimy Ridge, Currie remained vocal (and successful) in arguing for the retention of the Canadians as a single coherent fighting force.

Convinced in the importance of artillery in modern trench warfare, Currie utilised it with impressive success. Notably popular with Sir Douglas Haig, the BEF Commander in Chief, Currie nonetheless suffered from a reputation as a foul-mouthed, overbearing officer. His preference for managing his troops from far behind the front line further alienated his own troops, although in fact he was a frequent visitor to the front line.

Knighted in 1917 by King George V, Currie was the recipient of various other honours, including Commander of the Bath, Legion of Honour, Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Croix de Guerre and the U.S. Distinguished Service Medal.

Following the war Currie served as inspector general of the Canadian militia and, from 1920 as Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University until his death on 30 November 1933.

Primary Documents: Sir Arthur Currie on the Lys Offensive, April 1918
Updated - Saturday, 13 March, 2004

Reproduced below is the text of an appeal issued by Sir Arthur Currie to the Canadian Corps he commanded in April 1918.

In his appeal Currie stated that the fate of the British Empire was currently in the balance on account of the German-launched offensive along the Lys valley; consequently he called upon his men - about to enter the battle - to fight ever harder to defeat German forces presently in the ascendant.

Intended by Erich Ludendorff as a means of weakening and confusing the Allies the German attack along the Lys valley, launched on 9 April 1918, attained such startlingly effective initial results that Ludendorff took the decision to convert the effort into a full-scale offensive against British forces stationed there.

The German offensive very nearly succeeded in breaking through the British lines, opening an artillery path to the Channel Ports; however French reinforcements prevented a German breakthrough, prompting a German return to a defensive posture.

Click here to read British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig's Special Order of the Day, dated 11 April 1918, in which he appealed to the British Army "to fight it out" to the end. Click here to read Paul von Hindenburg's account of the opening of the offensive.

Sir Arthur Currie's Appeal to the Canadian Corps

Looking back with pride on the unbroken record of your glorious achievements, asking you to realize that today the fate of the British Empire hangs in the balance, I place my trust in the Canadian Corps, knowing that where Canadians are engaged there can be no giving way.

Under the orders of your devoted officers in the coming battle you will advance or fall where you stand facing the enemy.

To those who fall I say, "You will not die, but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate, but will have been proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be revered for ever and ever by your grateful country, and God will take you unto Himself."

Canadians, in this fateful hour I command you and I trust you to fight as you have ever fought, with all your strength, with all your determination, with all your tranquil courage. On many a hard-fought field of battle you have overcome this enemy. With God's help you shall achieve victory once more.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Nov 2011 9:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Deze week in Veertien Achttien: de Canadezen veroveren Passchendaele, maar eeuwige roem bezorgt het hun aanvoerder, Sir Arthur Currie, niet.

176 Sir Arthur Currie en de last van 11.000 dollar (zondag 4 november 1917)
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