Talk:Arthur Currie

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Starship Troopers[edit]

Was Camp Arthur Currie, from the novel Starship Troopers, named after him? ---- iansmcl

Unless someone has a direct citation or something from R.A. Heinlein to the contrary, I'd suggest that it probably was. If I recall correctly, Camp Currie was in Canada, and he would have been available (being militarily notable prior to the 1950s) for use. A quick Google search indicates that there's at least some agreement amongst Heinlein fans that Camp Currie was named for Arthur Currie and was in Canada. My vote, for what it's worth, is that there's a connection.--Foxhound 15:15, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

This article is in regards to a Canadian so Canadian spelling should be used; defence.User:pants7

C in C of BEF?[edit]

It needs to be mentioned, somewhere in this article (i don't know where it would fit) that Lloyd George had decided that, if the war went past 1918, then Currie would replace Douglas Haig as commander of all british forces in France (And I do have sources to back that up, by the way, including Burton). Cam 17:03, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

It has to be said that Lloyd-George was a tremendous intriguer and what he wanted isn't necessarily what he'd get. He also loathed Haig. L-G was exceedingly unpopular with British senior officers as he'd attempted to place Britain's military permanently under French Command in December 1916/January 1917. On the other hand, (and this comes as a surprise to most people) Haig was popular with the other generals (he listened to them and acted on their advice) as well as with the common soldiery. Furthermore, there were other more heavyweight candidates: Monash of Australia immediately springs to mind as does General Plumer. Roger 20:11, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
That's a fair point. You're right about John Monash, he was an amazing commander. However, I think that Currie's spectacular victories at Passchendaele and Amiens possibly put him in a very good light with British politicians. Also, L-G had threatened to sack Haig if he wasn't able to break through at Passchendaele. Currie (in a manner of speaking) saved his career as commander of British forces in France, by winning the Battle of Passchendaele. As I said, it's a fair point.

Cam 16:05, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

You should certainly add it as it's well documented and, if nothing else, demonstrates the political shenanigans that went on all the time in the background. (Whether it would have actually happened or not, is an entirely different matter. None of the Dominion generals had much experience of liaising with the French and, later, the Americans, and Haig was good at schmoozing.) Incidentally, don't overlook General Plumer. He might look like a walrus but he was right out of the same mould as Currie and Monash (methodical, left nothing to chance, and it's not his fault he was a Brit :))). and, on top of which, he was like everyone's favourite uncle. The British generals who were Currie's main rivals were, I suppose, Allenby, Russell (the NZ commander), perhaps Birdwood (Australia) and Byng. There's also Maj-Gen Sir Ivor Maxse (who saw eye to eye with Currie on almost everything) but he upset Haig and was put in charge of training (where he did an exceptional job). Nothing about him on Wikipedia, I see, but worth a biography at some stage. Roger 17:02, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I've never come across this before, despite having read tons about WW1 over the years from the British, US and Australian perpective - all are equally guilty of the we-were-the-best-and-it-was-us-who-won-the-war syndrome. I've heard the claim made of Monash, and it usually gets dismissed as precisely the sort of silly thing Lloyd George would claim years after the event, and being commander-in-chief of one bloc of forces in a coalition war is, besides being a jump of two rungs (three if you include the Army Groups between which the BEF forces were split by 1918), a very different skillset from commanding a corps at the front line. Roger's comments above are well-informed and pretty accurate. Anyway, have changed the wording to "claimed" as at least a degree of scepticism is called for.Paulturtle (talk) 08:54, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Did some digging on this in my library last night - Robin Neillands ("The Great War Generals") - who praises Currie and Monash very highly, subject to the caveats that unlike other corps commanders they had the advantage of commanding a coherent force instead of having divisions constantly shuffled in and out, and that by definition we don't know how either of them would have performed commanding an army, let alone the entire BEF - mentions this in passing only to dismiss it as a "myth ... without foundation except in Lloyd George's memoirs". In Monash's case the stories grew in the telling, into a claim that he would have been given Foch's job as generalissimo.Paulturtle (talk) 10:40, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for taking the time to research this. Would it be possible to add a footnote of the Neillands quote to the paragraph in question? Guinness323 (talk) 14:47, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Have now done so - apologies that it took me nearly a year ...Paulturtle (talk) 15:55, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Creeping barrage[edit]

Most sources have the Somme as the first use of the creeping barrage. There may well have been innovation at Vimy Ridge but I don't think it was the first creeping barrage. Cyclopaedic 22:37, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Currie did not introduce the creeping barrage at Vimy and I'm pretty sure it was first used even before the Somme. What Currie was good at was taking innovations and making them better and to work to his advantage, like the creeping barrage for instance. The Corps artillery was the envy of the British Armies, partly because it had more fire power than it’s British counterpart, partly because Currie was an artillery man who did every thing he could to supplement it and partly because of one officer of the artillery who was a scientist by profession who pursued ways to improve on counter battery work and everything involving artillery to the point where by the hundred days fire plans were moving barrages forward, backward, sideways, changing speeds, box formations and able to do it better than others. Brocky44 03:51, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Strictly speaking what was used on 1 July 1916 was a "lifting barrage" (bombard line X, pause, bombard line Y, pause, bombard line Z etc). A "creeping barrage" usually meant leapfrogging lines (A shells W and B shells X, then B shells X and A shells Y, then A shells Y and B shells Z etc etc) to give the defenders less respite. As the war went on co-ordination got better, besides figuring out the right mix of HE and gas for the initial shock bombardment and shrapnel for the creeping barrage. Not that I wish to denigrate Currie or the Canadians, but it would be interesting to compare a British text on artillery tactics (will dig one out if time allows) as virtually everyone "invented" the new tactics at much the same time - the Australians called them "the Monash Method" - in the same way as history buffs in Britain, Australia and Canada all remember Amiens as a victory for their respective nationality... Paulturtle (talk) 14:16, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

This article makes no claim that the Canadian Corps invented the creeping barrage. It only points out that in Currie's lecture of 20 January 1917 to the Canadian general staff, Currie made the point that, as events of the previous summer and fall had proven, tactics using a creeping (or lifting) barrage had to be improved for its full offensive value to be realized.Guinness323 (talk) 17:50, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually I was referring to the comments above that the Canadian Corps Artillery was "the envy of the British Armies" etc which may or may not be true but I'd need to see a bit more evidence before being persuaded. As for the article, there isn't anything massively wrong with it, but it is still possible to give a somewhat misleading impression by not telling the entire truth, namely that the British Army was producing tactical training notes saying similar things and that people like Birch, Harington, Uniacke, Maxse were working on similar state-of-the-art techniques, not to mention the likes of Petain, Bruchmuller, von Mudra, von Hutier etc etc. It comes back to my comments above - British, Australian and US accounts are all in my experience a bit guilty of excessive emphasis on their own players' skills and role in the team, and it's not surprising that Canadian accounts suffer from a similar fault. Paulturtle (talk) 01:14, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Other Battles[edit]

"When the German 1918 spring offensive was stalled, Currie took the Canadian Corps 100 miles south, in total secrecy, to the French town of Amiens, where his troops halted the German offensive in the Battle of Amiens and began the drive to Germany (known as the Canada's Hundred Days)."

This needs to be changed. His troops didn’t halt the German offensive in the Battle of Amiens. Very few Canadian troops took part in holding back the German assault. 100 miles? And they were moved back to the north before they began the drive to Germany.

"At the Battle of the Canal du Nord in September of 1918, Currie flatly refused to carry out Haig's orders to attack across a canal and into a fortified German trench. With the support of General Byng, Currie had bridges quickly assembled, and crossed the canal at night, surprising the Germans with an attack in the morning. This proved the effectiveness of Canadian engineers. Currie believed in the specialisation of troops and formally organised battalions of combat engineers to move with the troops."

Currie did not refuse Haig’s order to attack across a canal. Firstly, Currie planned his own battles not Haig. What Haig did was to point Commanders in the right direction. Normally Haig would give his orders to the Army Commander, in this case Horne of the First Army, and Horne would decide how the operation would be carried out and by what Corps and Divisions. Haig skipped a level in the chain of Command and gave the order directly to Currie in the presence of Horne. “The C in C indicated to the Corps Commander yesterday that the Corps, reinforced if necessary by other British Divisions, has the task of driving South of the Scarpe to break the Quent-Drocourt Line and reach the line of the Canal Du Nord…” Because of the Canadian Corps being an elite formation under one of the most effective Commanders Haig was explicit in how they would be used and for Currie to be given a freer hand in leading the First Armies Operations to the extent that the two Commanders roles would be reversed and, although Commanding Currie, Horne would be left to carry out his subordinates operational plans. Which meant that the First Armys’ job was to support the Canadian Corps (Hence “Canada’s Hundred Days”) where normally a British Army operations would be supported by the Corps under their command. Monash was also afforded this unique position.

The night attack happened a month before Canal Du Nord where the British GHQ objected to Currie’s plan and protested to no avail and called in Haig who was also against the night attack on the strongpoint. It was a valuable position in the system of German defenses. One of Currie’s General’s words for GHQ was “All we want from General Headquarters is a headline in the Daily Mail reading “The Canadians in Monchy before breakfast”” In a letter to his wife Haig wrote that the Canadian victory coupled with the gains to the south by the British Third and Fourth Armies was the greatest victory which a British Army ever achieved.

It was Currie’s plan at the Canal Du Nord, not a night attack, to run his Divisions as well as the immediately following British Divisions through a narrow dry part of the Canal that was known to the enemy. This time it was Horne who objected and consulted Haig who was again leary but gave into Currie’s plan. Horne asked Byng to look at the dangerous plan. Byng told Currie “Do you realize you are attempting one of the most difficult operations of the war? If anybody can do it, the Canadians can, but if you fail it means home for you.” The bridges that were quickly built were for the guns and their resupply. British Corps also all had their own engineers. The Canadians Corps had almost three times as many and had 4 specialist bridging units as well. Brocky44 08:29, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Spelling of surname[edit]

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Currie, states that his parents used the spelling Curry, and he only changed the spelling at the time he first joined the militia. This probably ought to be mentioned, if there are no contradictory sources. David Underdown (talk) 18:06, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

If you have a citable source (url, book citation, etc.), then a notation about this in his early life would probably be worthwhile. However, realize that a hundred years ago, it was not rare for children born in Canada to change the spelling of their surname for various reasons--simplification from their parents' "Old World" spelling, desire to break away from the old culture in a new country, etc. Slightly changed surnames is a bugaboo of geneologists e.g. is the person on this birth certificate spelled one way the same person on this marriage certificate? So it is not an uncommon thing. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other.Guinness323 (talk) 18:54, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

The History of Adelaide Township, for one, indicates that the original family name was Corrigan and that Currie's grandfather changed the name when he came to Canada and switched his religious affiliation from Roman Catholic to Methodist. Whether the name change was a reaction to the anti-Irish sentiments prevalent at the time, or for some other reason, is not known. The Gaelic pronunciation of Corrigan comes out sounding like Curry-gan. I have read various explanations for Currie spelling the name without the y, some say to Anglicize it or to make it Scottish rather than English. He did comment in a newstory in The London Free Press in August 1919 that one would have to search a long time in his family tree to find any Scot. Having said that, however, he did form the 50th Gordon Highlanders in Victoria in 1913 and there is very impressive portrait published in the same London Free Press of Currie in full highland regalia.Tinhut (talk) 09:50, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Uncited Claim of Embezzlement[edit]

It seems rather slanderous that there's a claim in the "Businessman and Gentleman Soldier" section that "[f]acing personal bankruptcy and a disgraced retirement from the militia, Currie diverted $10,833.34 from regimental funds into his personal accounts to pay off his debts" without any sources or corroboration whatsoever. (talk) 01:46, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

This is a well-known fact, see Berton, Pierre "Vimy", McLelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1986, p. 106: "To be blunt, Currie was an embezzler. He had diverted eleven thousand dollars of the regiment's funds, intended to pay for uniforms, to cover his own personal debt..."; and "Welcome to Flanders Fields", MClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1988, pp.49-50:" Currie had defrauded his militia unit out of $10,883.34, government money that was supposed to be spent on the purchase of new uniforms..." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Guinness323 (talkcontribs) 03:14, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Added above citations to article. Sorry, forgot to sign my last comment Guinness323 (talk) 03:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Extra Tribute[edit]

There was a Sir Arthur Currie elementary school in Montreal on Rosedale avenue at least as late as 1981 (when I attended it). It seems to have since changed its name to "Les Enfants du Monde" and become a French-speaking school in the years since. If I get more details, I'll add them. (talk) 04:12, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for looking into this. Guinness323 (talk) 13:37, 17 March 2010 (UTC)


In an effort to resolve the current edit war ("divert" versus "took" or "withdrew"): As outlined in detail in the two sources referenced, (Canadian historian Pierre Berton's Vimy, and Canadian military historian Daniel G. Dancocks' Welcome to Flanders) Currie was given a government cheque to be deposited into regimental accounts in order to purchase regimental uniforms and equipment. Instead, he deposited the cheque into his personal account, and used the money to pay off his personal debts. He could not withdraw the money from regimental funds, because the money did not originate in the regimental account. Therefore, "diverted" is the correct word for his actions. Guinness323 (talk) 15:48, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

I should also point out that "diverted" is the word used by historian Pierre Berton in his book Vimy (p.106: "He had diverted $11,000 of the regiment's funds, intended to pay for uniforms, to cover his own personal debts.") Guinness323 (talk) 17:24, 12 June 2010 (UTC)
Berton viewed Currie, as stated on the same page, as an embezzler. Tim Cook, in his 2004 Canadian Historical Review paper, says Currie "stole" the regimental funds. Cook further clarifies that even until reaching the rank of M.Gen, Currie did not attempt to repay the debts. Dancocks takes equally strong language, saying Currie "defrauded his militia regiment". All view it more seriously than a simple diversion. Currie took public funds to cover personal debts during a time of war, an incredible serious offense. The seriousness of the actions is not currently conveyed in the passage. Rather it reads as a large explanatory excuse. Currie ended up in his situation by using debt financing for property speculation, not because of new regimental uniforms and mess bills. The actions of Coy are almost entirely irrelevant because Currie was still going to take regimental funds, it just so happened to be public regimental funds for uniforms instead of those (not) deposited by Coy. Either way it was regimental funds that did not belong to him... in any way. Weasel terms such as "accounting sleight-of-hand" are equally inappropriate.--Labattblueboy (talk) 06:30, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
And similarly we describe it as embezzlement later int eh article. We now describe exactly what he did, and how, and what a reputable hisorian gives as his motivation. Yes it was undoubtedly "conduct unbecoming2 and he was damned lucky not to be cashiered, but it's very ahrd for us at this remove to be certain of exactly what his intentions were at the time he misused the funds. David Underdown (talk) 10:32, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
The use of the word "diverted" is to indicate that he did not withdraw funds from the regiment but instead did not deposit government funds to the regiment that were supposed to flow through him. You weaken your case by quoting Tim Cook, who is at best a feeble historian. His book At the Sharp End is about the dullest history of Canadian involvement in WWI written to date--this despite the fact that he has the entire Canadian war archives to work from. Cook ignores the obvious reason Currie did not repay the money right away: he was flat broke (which is why he used regimental funds in the first place). Note that he finally had to borrow money from two subordinate officers to pay the debt, which must have been highly embarrassing. If there had been another way to pay off the debt, one imagines Currie would have done it. Guinness323 (talk) 16:01, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Flag of allegiance[edit]

I would suggest it be Canadian, rather than UK, because of this individuals clear association with Canada and the association with Canada is clearly denoted in any related military articles involving Currie.--Labattblueboy (talk) 18:43, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

Answer: Thank you. - The allegiance that I corrected it to was the 'British Empire', not the UK. The "Allegiance" category in this section applies to Currie's military career, which his WW1 service was the centerpiece of. That conflict was a clash between the British Empire & the German Empire, not Canada vs Germany. Canada declared war on the German Empire in 1914 as a integral part of the British Empire which was threatened as a whole, not as an independent country in isolation. Currie in 1914 would have regarded himself as defending the British Empire, not Canada in isolation, which was under no individual threat from Germany in the least.

I understand the enthusiasm for Canadian patriotism, but it doesn't really make historical sense to use allegiance to Canada in this context, & it's a mistake to take contemporary sentiments & backdate them onto the past like this, where sentiment was different in these matters.

It would make sense to put military allegiance to the British Empire with that symbol for Currie's martial career, & the Canuck Red Ensign (great flag, which should be re-introduced today imo, by the way) next to his nationality or birthplace, but putting military allegiance to Canada in the context of WW1 doesn't make contemporary historical sense?

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Bardrick (talkcontribs) 20:19, 26 December 2013

It's a rather longstanding approach for not only WWI period articles relating to Canada but all Commonwealth nations. Previous discussion (Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Military_history/Archive_120#Name_of_.22Britain.22_in_1914-1918) and WP:MILMOS#FLAGS are two factors that come immediately to mind. We are referring to an individual who was born, died and completed their entire military service under Canada. If you'd like to further examine the status of the dominions as it related to this issue I would suggest a broader approach as I suspect the military history folks involved in Canada, Australian, New Zealand and South Africa are the most like to have strong opinions on the subject.--Labattblueboy (talk) 20:59, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
I see you insist on making the change. I'm referring the issue to the MILHIST talk page. See Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Military_history#WP:MILMOS.23FLAGS_and_WWI_flags_of_Commonwealth_dominions for the discussion.--Labattblueboy (talk) 22:07, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
Will @Bardrick: and @Labattblueboy: please note that you're both close to breaching WP:3RR. Better to maintain this discussion than revert each other so much over something so pitiful as a flag icon. If you can't come to agreement, why not take a third option and remove it altogether, with just a text entry in that field. Also Bardrick, please sign your talkpage posts properly with 4 tildes, thanks. Ma®©usBritish{chat} 22:44, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
The military history folks from Australia do have a lot to say on this matter. Although not fully independent, Canada was recognised as an independent country, and not just a self-governing colony, hence the dominion status. It had its own army, and had already rejected the notion of any obligation to collective imperial defence at the 1907 Imperial Conference. It issued its own declaration of war on Germany. Canada set its own terms, conditions and limits on its participation. It makes no sense to write about Canada "in isolation" when Canada was never going to be in isolation, even without the British Empire. There was heated argument before the war between those who saw Canada's primary obligation as being to the Empire and those who saw it as being to Canada. Currie was firmly in the latter camp. He never considered his allegiance as being other than to Canada. That Canada "was under no individual threat from Germany in the least" is certainly arguable, but was not the popular consensus at the time, and is still being debated by the historians. Expect more to come over the next few years as the anniversaries of the Great War roll around. So it definitely does make contemporary historical sense. It was what Currie would have wanted. Hawkeye7 (talk) 00:10, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
@Hawkeye7: While I don't doubt your reasoning, and while I know you're trying to help defuse the situation, I'll note that WP:INFOBOXFLAG has a very good reason as to why what you're tying to suggest would be impermissible POV. When we start getting into self-identification versus contemporary classification versus historical classification, that should certainly rule out any possibility of having a flag in the Infobox. Cdtew (talk) 01:14, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Per my comment at the WikProject talk page discussion above, I've removed the flag entirely. While MILMOS is a helpful suggestion, WP:INFOBOXFLAG trumps as a part of the actual MOS. Per that rule, Infoboxflags should not be used when they (a) do not convey additional information not already conveyed by the text, and (b) when they are likely to lead to confusion. Regardless of which flag is included, it would fail both (a) and (b). I know this isn't my subject-matter area, but the MILHIST areas in which I edit benefit greatly from this line of thinking. Cdtew (talk) 01:09, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

ignoring the flag topic for a brief moment, can we agree that the allegiance field should be the associated dominion and not "British Empire".Labattblueboy (talk) 17:19, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, we are agreed on that. I was only referring to the country of allegiance, not the flag. I do not agree that WP:INFOBOXFLAG is in contradiction to WP:MILMOS, as it provides an entire hook under In some military history contexts. I do think that WP:INFOBOXFLAG's insistence on the historical flags lands us, in the case of Canada, with a flag few people recognise. However, we are agreed that the allegiance field should be the associated dominion and not "British Empire" Hawkeye7 (talk) 20:29, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Hawkeye, Canada did not actually issue a separate declaration of war in 1914. You are thinking of 1939. In 1914 Canada was automatically at war as a constituent component of the British Empire.

First Canadian General?[edit]

What about William Fenwick Williams? He was born in Nova Scotia and commanded the BNA garrison, also served as first LG of Nova Scotia in the Dominion of Canada so he was involved in post-Confederation Canada too.

Although he served as lieutenant-governor after Confederation, William Fenwick Willams was a general before Confederation, when Nova Scotia was a British colony.Guinness323 (talk) 13:37, 8 October 2015 (UTC)