Sir Arthur Currie
Sir Arthur William Currie (changed from Curry in 1887), soldier, educator (b at Strathroy, Ont 5 Dec 1875; d at Montréal, Qué 30 Nov 1933). He was the first Canadian-appointed commander of the Canadian Corps during WWI.
Sir Arthur William Currie (changed from Curry in 1887), soldier, educator (b at Strathroy, Ont 5 Dec 1875; d at Montréal, Qué 30 Nov 1933). He was the first Canadian-appointed commander of the Canadian Corps during WWI. He began the war with no professional military experience but several years of service in the Canadian Militia. He was appointed commander of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade on 29 September 1914, commander of the 1st Canadian Division on 13 September 1915 and commander of the Canadian Corps on 9 June 1917.
Currie participated in all major actions of the Canadian forces, including Passchendaele, during the war but is best known for his planning and leadership during the last 100 days, beginning August 8 and lasting until 11 November 1918, perhaps the most successful of all Allied offensives during the war (see Vimy Ridge). Criticism of this campaign by Sir Sam Hughes in Parliament resulted in postwar controversy and a libel action in 1928 which completely vindicated Currie.
Fighting off bankruptcy, Currie diverted $11 000 of his regiment's money to cover his personal debts. The affair came to the attention of Prime Minister Borden, who refused to consider court-martialling Canada's best soldier. British wartime Prime Minister Lloyd George called Currie a "brilliant military commander," and might have appointed him commander of all British forces had the war continued.
Currie served as inspector general of the militia forces in Canada 23 August 1919 to 30 July 1920, and in 1920 became principal and vice-chancellor of McGill, a position he held until his death. Without benefit of post-secondary education himself, he was extraordinarily successful as a university administrator at a time of particular importance in McGill's development.
D.G. Dancocks, Legacy of Valour: The Canadians at Passchendaele (1986); A.M.J. Hyatt, General Sir Arthur Currie (1987); H.M. Urquhart, Arthur Currie (1950).