LIEUTENANT--GENERAL SIR ARTHUR CURRIE (A brief account of the battle of Passchendaele)
Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie was the most capable soldier that Canada has produced. Certainly, he did not look like the great soldier he had become. A very tall man, at six-foot-four, he was also somewhat overweight. Through his successes as the Commander of the Canadian Corps, he knew how to delegate authority and stand by the decisions of his subordinates.
Currie, however, was not a professional soldier. He was born in Strathroy, Ontario, on December 5, 1875 and raised, he had moved to Canada's west coast in his late teens. As an adult, he movedto Victoria, British Columbia, he had become a schoolteacher, and insurance salesman, and, a real-estate speculator, an occupation that made him one of Victoria's leading citizens. Like all goodCanadian businessmen at the time, he joined the Canadian Militia. In 1897, he had enlisted as a lowly gunner in the 5th Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery; by 1909, he was the lieutenant-colonelcommanding the regiment. In late 1913, Currie accepted the challenge of raising and training an infantry unit, the 50th Regiment, Gordon Highlanders of Canada.
When the war broke out in August 1914, the highly regarded Currie was commanded of an infantry brigade. Currie fought with exceptional composure at Ypres in 1915 where his 2nd Brigade made a remarkable stand against the poison gas. Having impressed his superiors, Currie was promoted to command the "crack" 1st Canadian Division. He led the "Red Patch" at Mount Sorrel, through the horror of the Somme in 1916 and at Vimy Ridge, Arleux, and Fresnoy in the spring of 1917. In June, Currie had been knighted and named commander of the Canadian Corps, now four divisions strong.
One of Currie's most impressive and important achievements had come during the winter or 1919-17, while he was still a divisional commander. By analyzing the fighting he had witnessed on the Western Front, Currie had drawn up what proved to be a blueprint for tactical success. In a paper, Currie synthesized the best of British and French concepts, and with many of his own beliefs based on personal experience. Under Sir Arthur Currie, the Canadian Corps emerged as an outstanding formation on the Western Front. No force--British, Australian, French, American, of German--could match its marvelous, record, a series of successes without a single setback, by the end of the war.
Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Curries was not pleased at the prospect of going to Passchendaele. Currie, like many Canadian soldiers, had grim memories of the Ypres salient, and grim memories to he Ypres salient, and admitted that his "experience in the salient in 1915 and in 1916 were such that I never wanted to see the place again." Unfortunately, on 3 October, Currie was warned that the Corps might be sent north, to take part in the offensive in Flanders. Currie could make no sense of Passchendaele, and he was furious. "Passchendaele!" he raged in front of his staff. "What's the good of it? Let the Germans have it--keep it--rot in it! Rot in the mud! There's a mistake somewhere. it must be a mistake! It isn't worth a drop of blood." Although Currie was not at all happy that the Canadians had been told to take Passchendaele. One of Currie's first moves was to assign intelligence officers to the various headquarters with which the Canadian Corps would be associated: Second Army, II Anzac Corps, which was responsible for the sector the Canadians would be taking over, and its front-line divisions, the New Zealand and 3rd Australian. These officers, and the general staff were to acquire early and thorough information as regards to details of German defenses and dispositions, and especially for the purpose of arranging the daily programme of bombardment. These preparations was a sparkling success. On the other hand, at the Canadian Corps headquarters, planning for...
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