Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 8, 1882
Place of BirthGlasgow, Lanarkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJanie Holmes (sister), Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer, Canadian Pacific Railway
Service Details
Regimental Number199201
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 24, 1916
Age at Enlistment33
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Medal
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 2, 1918
Age at Death36
Buried AtDominion Cemetery: Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, Pas-de-Calais, France
PlotI. B. 19.

Currie, Robert

The final period of the war is known now as the Hundred Days Offensive. The Canadians were heavily involved in the battles and they suffered 20% of their total battle casualties in those last three months of the war. One of the fallen was Corporal Robert Currie, who was killed in action in France in September 1918.

Robert was the oldest son of Jackson Currie and Eliza Armstrong of Glasgow, Scotland. Jackson and Eliza were married in 1878 in Loughgilly, Armagh County, Ireland and Robert was born on 8 June 1882 in the district of Dennistoun in Glasgow. His father’s occupation at the time was engine keeper. Robert had an older sister Jane, also known as Janet and Jennie, and a younger brother George. Their father died in 1891 when Robert was nine, and their mother passed away in 1898. When the 1901 census was taken Robert and his sister were living on Dunn Street in Glasgow and he was working as a clerk. In 1903 Jane married Thomas Holmes and within a few years Jane, Thomas and Robert all immigrated to Canada, settling in the Kenora area in northwestern Ontario. Their younger brother George moved to Kenora after the war, in 1920.

The war started in August 1914 and Robert enlisted in March 1916, joining the local 94th Battalion. The 94th was based in Port Arthur and recruited throughout northwestern Ontario. The Kenora volunteers left town on 25 May 1916 to join the rest of the battalion in Port Arthur and a huge crowd gathered at the train station to see the men off. They left for Quebec on 9 June and spent a short time at Valcartier Camp, northwest of Quebec City, before embarking from Halifax on 28 June 1916 on the SS Olympic. In England the men were all transferred to reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units. Robert was assigned to the 17th Reserve Battalion then to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish). In September he was sent to France to join his new unit in the field. That fall the Canadians were at the Somme Offensive and in less than three months they suffered 24,000 casualties. In October the 16th Battalion left the Somme and moved north to a section of the front line between Lens and Arras, opposite Vimy. Over the winter they received reinforcements to bring the battalion back up to strength. Early in 1917 the Canadian Corps began intensive training for their next operation, the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917). The assault on the ridge was a remarkable success for the Canadians, the first time all four divisions were used together in one operation. In August 1917 Robert was given ten days leave in Paris and that fall his unit took part in the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917).

Following the operations at Passchendaele the 16th Battalion returned to the Lens area of France and in January 1918 Robert was promoted to Lance Corporal. In the early hours of 13 February he took part in a planned raid on the German trenches where he earned a Military Medal. ‘For his great bravery and personal initiative on February 13th 1918. He commanded one of the leading sections of the raid and when unanticipated wire was encountered, he showed great pluck in getting his men through the three lines of wire and rushing the German trench. With a shower of rifles grenades the gunners were chased to their dugouts and the way made clear for the whole party. L/Cpl Currie then led his party down the German front line bombing dugouts and inflicting a great many casualties. He brought back one prisoner. His section and the wounded were withdrawn with the utmost precision under his direction.’ Robert was awarded the medal in March 1918.

The final period of the war started with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918 and ended with the Armistice three months later. On 19 August Robert was promoted to Corporal and at the end of the month his unit was based southeast of Arras, near the village of Chérisy. On 2 September they took part in the attack on the heavily defended Drocourt-Quéant Line, part of the 2nd Battle of Arras. The men moved into position on the night of 1 September and the assault began at 5 am the next morning. During the advance Robert was killed by German machine gun fire, one of 200 casualties suffered by his battalion in the two-day operation.

From Robert’s Circumstances of Death record: Was killed by fire from an enemy machine gun nest, about halfway to the objective. Location of unit at time of casualty: Attack near Chérisy.

In a letter to Mrs. Jane Holmes the platoon officer praised Robert for his bravery and leadership and said ‘you have lost a very gallant brother.’

Robert is buried in Dominion Cemetery in the village of Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, about 16 km southeast of Arras. He’s commemorated on the Cenotaph in Kenora, Ontario and on the Kenora Legion War Memorial. In 2012 Robert’s name was added to the Glasgow Roll of Honour.

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