76 Facts About Arthur Currie


Arthur Currie is generally considered to be among the most capable commanders of the Western Front, and one of the finest commanders in Canadian military history.


Arthur Currie began his military career in 1897 as a part-time soldier in the Canadian militia while making his living as a teacher and later as an insurance salesman and real estate speculator.


Arthur Currie rose quickly through the ranks: commissioned as an officer in 1900, promoted to captain in 1901, then major in 1906 and became an artillery regimental commander in 1909.


In 1913 Arthur Currie accepted the command of the newly created 50th Regiment Gordon Highlanders of Canada.


Arthur Currie was born on 5 December 1875 to William Garner Curry and Jane Patterson on their farm near the hamlet of Napperton, Ontario, just west of Strathroy.


Arthur Currie was the third in a family of eight children and grew up on the homestead of his paternal grandparents, John Corrigan and Jane Garner.


Arthur Currie's grandparents had emigrated from Ireland in 1838 to escape religious strife, and upon their arrival in Canada they had converted from Catholicism and Anglicanism to Methodism, changing the family name from Corrigan to Curry.

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Arthur Currie modified the spelling of his surname from Curry to Currie in 1897.


Arthur Currie was educated in local common schools and at the Strathroy District Collegiate Institute, where he proved to be a good student especially interested in literature.


Arthur Currie had plans to pursue a professional career in law or medicine; however, the death of his father when Arthur was fifteen made this impossible due to his limited financial means.


Arthur Currie instead pursued teacher training, but he was unable to secure a job and returned to high school to complete an honours certificate in order to gain university entrance.


In May 1894, mere months before his final exams, Arthur Currie quarrelled with one of his teachers, and subsequently left high school to seek his fortune in British Columbia, hoping to take advantage of the financial boom resulting from the construction of the transcontinental railway.


However, Arthur Currie found no prospects outside of teaching, so he qualified as a teacher in British Columbia and took a teaching position on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria, British Columbia.


In 1896 Arthur Currie moved to Victoria, taking a position at Boy's Central School and later Victoria High School.


On 6 May 1897 Arthur Currie joined the Canadian Militia as a part-time gunner for the 5th Field Artillery Regiment.


Arthur Currie achieved the rank of corporal in 1900 and was after offered an officer's commission, which would give him a much higher status in the social circles of Victoria.


On 14 August 1901 Arthur Currie married Lucy Chaworth-Musters, who had been raised by Arthur Currie's aunt and uncle in British Columbia after being abandoned by her British military officer father following the death of her mother in childbirth.


Arthur Currie attended every available course offered by the British Army Contingent at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt, often ordered military text books from London and was found on the shooting range every Saturday.


Arthur Currie was a keen marksman and was elected president of the British Columbia Rifle Association in 1905.


Arthur Currie was promoted to captain in November 1901, and then to major in 1906.


Apart from his interest in the militia, Arthur Currie was an active Freemason, rising to the position of deputy grandmaster of the Victoria District of Freemasonry in 1907.


Arthur Currie served two years as president of the Young Men's Liberal Association of Victoria, and several times was suggested as a candidate for the provincial legislature.


Arthur Currie was appointed head of the Matson Insurance Firm in 1904 when Sam Matson, who had many business interests beyond his insurance firm, decided to concentrate his energy on publishing the Daily Colonist.


The originally designated commanding officer for the new regiment failed to qualify for the post and Arthur Currie was approached as a logical replacement.


Arthur Currie initially turned down the idea, likely recognizing that the cost of the new Highland uniforms and mess bills would only add to his financial problems.

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Arthur Currie attended the Militia Staff Course conducted by Major Louis Lipsett, future commander of the 3rd Canadian Division, and qualified in March 1914.


Arthur Currie was desperate to avoid personal bankruptcy, which would have resulted in a loss in social standing and forced him to resign his commission.


The 50th Regiment's honorary colonel, William Coy, had promised to underwrite the regiment with $35,000, and Arthur Currie planned to use the funds to pay the uniform contractor.


Unfortunately for Arthur Currie, Coy did not follow through with his financial commitment to the regiment, leaving Arthur Currie's accounting sleight-of-hand potentially exposed.


Arthur Currie considered turning down this offer as well so he could attempt to solve his financial woes.


Arthur Currie changed his mind at the urging of Garnet Hughes.


Arthur Currie's leadership during the Second Battle of Ypres was a source of dispute by British historian James Edward Edmonds, who argued that Arthur Currie and his 2nd Canadian Brigade performed poorly at Ypres.


Arthur Currie, supported by the Canadian official historian Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid, waged a vigorous defense, charging that Edmonds was seeking to diminish the Canadian contribution to the Second Battle of Ypres.


Arthur Currie was invested as a Companion of the Order of the Bath and as Commander of the Legion d'Honneur.


Arthur Currie proved himself to be the master of the set-piece assault, designed to take limited objectives and then hold on in the face of inevitable German counterattacks.


Sam Hughes wanted Garnet promoted to command of a division, but Arthur Currie, having seen Garnet in action at the Second Battle of Ypres, believed Garnet to be an incompetent officer, and refused.


Arthur Currie's reputation was on the rise, and Hughes did not have the necessary leverage to force Arthur Currie to comply.


Arthur Currie was among a set of officers who attended a series of lectures hosted by the French Army regarding their experiences during the Battle of Verdun.


On 20 January 1917 Arthur Currie began a series of well received lectures to Corps and divisional headquarters based on his research.


Arthur Currie summarized the primary factors behind successful French offensive operations as: careful staff work, thorough artillery preparation and support, the element of surprise, and a high state of training in the infantry units detailed for the assault.


When Byng was promoted to general in command of the British Third Army in June 1917, Arthur Currie was raised to the temporary rank of lieutenant-general on 9 June, and given command of the entire Canadian Corps.


Arthur Currie was knighted by King George V and appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the King's Birthday Honours of 4 June 1917.


The British First Army commander Lieutenant-General Henry Horne ordered the Canadian Corps to relieve I Corps opposite the city of Lens on 10 July 1917, and directed Arthur Currie to develop a plan for capturing the city by the end of July 1917.


Arthur Currie's plan was implemented successfully, and by the end of the battle, some 20,000 Germans had been killed or wounded at the cost of 9,000 Canadians.


Arthur Currie was tasked with continuing the advance started by the now exhausted II Anzac Corps in order to ultimately capture Passchendaele village and gain favourable observation positions and drier winter positions.

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Arthur Currie estimated the attack would result in 16,000 casualties.


Arthur Currie's preparations included reconnaissance, road construction and a massing of artillery and heavy machine guns.


Rather than one mass assault, Arthur Currie designed a series of well-prepared, sharp attacks that allowed the Corps to take an objective and then hold it against the inevitable German counterattacks.


British command intended to integrate American battalions into the depleted corps, which Arthur Currie predicted would be a disaster and would destroy the homogeneous structure of the corps.


Arthur Currie was opposed to all those measures since he did not view them as being in the best interests of the corps.


Arthur Currie took three weeks to prepare perhaps his most audacious plan: he suggested the entire corps cross the drier section of the canal on a front of only 2,700 yards.


In December 1918, Arthur Currie established the Canadian War Narrative Section to maintain a level of control as to how the Canadian contribution to the Hundred Days Offensive would be documented in print and presented to the public.


Tim Cook argues that the Canadian War Narrative Section was an important step in not only recording and presenting the achievements of the Canadian Corps but in restoring Arthur Currie's damaged reputation, which had been battered by Sam Hughes and his supporters in Parliament.


Arthur Currie intended to use the position to reform the military.


However, in the post-war period, military funding was cut and Arthur Currie encountered significant opposition from the military bureaucracy to organizational changes.


Deeply unhappy, Arthur Currie retired from the military, and in May 1920 accepted the position of principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University in Montreal.


Arthur Currie had only a high school diploma, but on the recommendation of McGill's acting principal, Frank Dawson Adams, Arthur Currie was selected as principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University on the basis of his "exceptional powers of organization and administration" and his "capacity for inspiration and leadership" rather than academic prowess.


Arthur Currie made a name for himself as a premier university administrator.


Arthur Currie was instrumental in saving the School for Graduate Nurses at Royal Victoria College from closure in the early 1930s.


Arthur Currie was President of the Last Post Fund from 1924 to 1932.


But, when this event was reported in Canadian newspapers, Arthur Currie's enemies took the opportunity to again question the necessity of the final day of fighting.


The newspaper had only a small local circulation, and Arthur Currie's friends advised him against pursuing the matter.


However, Arthur Currie was unwilling to let the matter go, and sued the newspaper for libel, seeking $50,000 in damages.


Arthur Currie was elected Dominion president of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League in 1928.


Arthur Currie suffered another stroke on 5 November 1933 and died on 30 November at the age of 57 at Royal Victoria Hospital from bronchial complications brought on by pneumonia.

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Arthur Currie was initially interred in a family plot at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.


However, three years after his death, Arthur Currie's remains were moved to a more prominent site surmounted by a cross of sacrifice.


Arthur Currie was survived by his wife, Lucy, and a son and daughter.


Arthur Currie was named a Companion of the Order of the Bath after the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 and promoted Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1918 New Year Honours.


Arthur Currie was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 1919 New Year Honours, and was Mentioned in Despatches nine times over the course of the war.


Arthur Currie received a number of foreign awards, including the French Legion d'honneur and Croix de guerre, the Belgian Croix de guerre and Order of the Crown, and the US Distinguished Service Medal.


Mount Arthur Currie located at the Spray River headwaters in Banff National Park is named after Arthur Currie.


The Arthur Currie Building and Arthur Currie Hall at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario were subsequently named in his honour.


Arthur Currie was a brilliant tactician who used his skills to reduce casualties and is credited with accelerating the end of the war.


Arthur Currie has surrounded himself with a capable staff whose counsel he shares and whose advice he takes.


Arthur Currie is the last man in the world to stick to his own plan if a better one offers.