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War Strategies of Sir Arthur Currie

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War Strategies of Sir Arthur Currie

Sir Arthur Currie was not a man raised to become a great general, he had to start from the beginning and work his way to the top. He served his country by fighting and leading battles that made Canada a great independent nation, making him a figure of inspiration to many Canadians. In the many battles of World War One, including Amiens, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, and others, Arthur Currie devised well prepared, flexible, unique, and intelligent war strategies that led Canadian troops to victory.

Born on December 5th, 1875 in Napperton, Ontario, Arthur William Currie found his place in the world. Having been the third of seven children, Currie found his family to be very supportive of each other (Dancocks, 1985). At the age of 15, Currie's father died of a stroke, leaving the family in financial problems. University was not the path to go down at this point for Currie, in hopes of becoming a lawyer. Instead, he took a teaching course (Harris, 1988).

Later on in his developing career, Currie met with a woman named Lucy Charworth-Musters, who would one day be his wife. With a paying job as a teacher, he decided to enlist in the militia as a lowly gunner in the 5th Regiment at the Canadian Garrison Artillery. In 1901, Currie married Lucy and found a better-paying job at an insurance firm at Matson and Coles (Dancocks, 1985). With great devotion to his wife and two children, the militia was still one of Currie's priorities and he became a commander of the 5th Regiment of Artillery, winning the Governor-General's Cup for efficiency (Hyatt, 1987). On the 4th of August in 1914, the British ultimatum to Germany expired and Canada was now automatically at war (Hyatt, 1987).

With careful planning, co-operation, good leadership and courage, Currie managed to bring out the characteristics of a well thought out success at Vimy Ridge in April of 1917 (Dancocks, 1985). Sir Arthur Currie's responsibility was to command the 1st Canadian Division (Hyatt, 1987). He pushed his troops to undergo rigorous training and to prepare themselves by using a life-size course, with every trench marked by tape and a flag (Dancocks, 1985). Currie designed very accurate maps and he had a small-scale plasticine model built so that it could be studied by all soldiers. Arthur Currie insisted that his division's knowledge of the enemy was excellent (Dancocks, 1985). It was quite apparent that Currie had very well thought out and intelligent preparations for the battle of Vimy Ridge. Even Currie himself stated,

They had rehearsed the attack many times, and each and every man knew just exactly

where he was going in the attack, and what he was going to do when he got there.

Every feature of the German defence was studied, and definite plans made for the

overcome of every obstacle, in so far as it was humanly possible to make such plans

before and attack (Dancocks, 1985, p.94).

Currie's troops' readiness for battle led to remarkable success at Vimy Ridge, capturing nearly all the first objectives in the first 45 minutes (Hyatt, 1987). Not only did Currie lead his men to a significant victory, but the reputation of Canada had changed. As Field Marshal J.C. Smuts once wrote,

I see once more Vimy Ridge on that cold dull grey rainy morning of 9 April, 1917. I

witness once more the great deed that was wrought there by Currie and his men- a

deed that sent a thrill of hope and inspiration throughout the whole of our frustrated

ranks on the vast Western Front. Canada proved herself there, and it could never be

the same Canada again, as her subsequent history has already shown (Urquhart, 1950,

p. xiii).

In October of 1917, Currie had to begin making preparations for an attack at Passchendaele. These preparations included exhausting and extensive work of building roads in the mud and gathering guns in just a few days (Dancocks, 1985). "Indeed, two of the most essential prerequisites for an attack in such complex conditions were very careful planning and close co-operation- qualities in which Currie excelled" (Hyatt, 1987, p. 82). The results of these preparations were excellent, in the words of Urquhart,

It is true these achievements were only possible because of the strength in man power

of the Canadians; but even so results would not have been so completely successful

had it not been for Currie's tireless energy in insisting that the progress of the work be

kept up to strict timetable (Urquhart, 1950, p.177).

In Currie's opinion, the key to success for Passchendaele was to provide enough support at all times for the assaulting infantry. However, he was greatly worried about artillery not being able to do its share (Hyatt, 1987). Moreover, weather conditions were a big factor. Specifically, tremendous amounts of mud slowed Canadians down and casualties were increasing, but Currie was determined to keep his troops alive (Harris, 1988). Despite these obstacles the courageous men had fought their way through the mud and the outcome of Passchendaele was a victorious one (Hyatt, 1987). In one of Currie's letters, he wrote, "I do not think it is too much to sayÐ'... that the victory of the Canadians at Passchendaele kept the Allies in the war" (Dancocks, 1985, p.120). Passchendaele is a notable example of how Currie had well-prepared war strategies with plans that were based on efficiency and persistence.

On August 8th, 1918 Canadian troops were to participate in the Amiens

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