Who's Who - Sir Arthur Currie

General Sir Arthur Currie 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.

Click here to read Currie's appeal to the Canadian Corps for courage shortly before they entered fighting during the Lys Offensive of April 1918.

The Russian war ace Alexander Kozakov claimed 20 victories during the war; his nearest compatriot, Vasili Yanchenko, claimed 16.

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