General Sir Arthur Currie

Sir Arthur Currie

Arthur William Currie was born in Strathroy, Ontario. As a young man he moved to Victoria, British Columbia and taught school in the area for a time. He then entered private business as an insurance agent and real estate broker. At the urging of a friend, he joined the 5th (British Columbia) Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery in 1897 and quickly became a dedicated, technically skilled and enthusiastic member, rising to command the Regiment in 1908.

 

 

As an artilleryman Currie rose quickly through the ranks due to his skill and aptitude.  Currie took advantage of there being a school of artillery close at hand and completed every course offered, normally topping the course.  His skill in gunnery matters was evident in his bringing his Company and in due course the Regiment to exceptional levels of achievement.  Over the period 1907 to 1913, the 5th Regiment won every Dominion trophy available for competition in Canada and several competitions at an international level.  The 5th Regiment, with Currie leading, were noted to be “the best gunnery corps in the Dominion.”Picture2

Currie was very proficient as a tactician as well. Notably, while he commanded the 5th Regiment, he employed these skills in dealing with a miners strike and rioting in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island by deceiving the protestors as to the Regiment’s route of advance. Rather than taking the railroad to the site he sent only a decoy force by rail and sent the bulk of the unit by steam ship, permitting them to arrive from the protestors’ rear having already secured the town of Nanaimo from their continued rioting.  He further proved his proficiency in tactics on the militia staff course achieving the highest marks.  He was known to be a principled and straight talking officer and these attributes resulted in admiration from all who dealt with him.

The technical skills and tactical knowledge he developed while in the 5th Regiment placed him in good situation to advance as a commander.  His skills along with those of gunner and engineer commanders and peers permitted him to achieve great successes in WWI, playing a pivotal role in the battle of Vimy Ridge and rising to command the Canadian Corps.  This last mentioned battle is said to be where Canada became a nation won with the planning preparations and tactics of the Canadians who fought there.  Currie was knighted by H.M. King George V in 1917 and was honoured by the Governments of France, Belgium and the United States.

 

Following the First War, Sir Arthur Currie became the President and Vice Chancellor of McGill University, and he is credited with instituting the post war expansion of McGill campus and preserving its programs during the Depression. Sir Arthur Currie died in Montreal on November 30th, 1933 after a brief illness.

General Currie returned to service with the 5th Regiment as the Regiment’s Honorary Colonel from 1919-1933.

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