Sunday, 25 March 2012

Lance Corporal Robert Currie MM

I've been researching my family history for 12 years now, and am still finding all sorts of extraordinary stories. One of those concerns the discovery in the last few days of a first cousin of my grandmother Jean Paton (nee Currie), who I never knew existed - Robert Currie.

Robert was born in Glasgow in 1882, the son of Jackson Currie and Eliza Armstrong. Jackson died in 1891 and Eliza in 1898, leading Robert and siblings Jane and George to emigrate to Canada. Robert signed up to the Canadian Expeditionary Force from his home in Norman, Kenora, Ontario, and would be awarded the Military Medal for bravery in an action in 1918. Sadly he lost his life in September 1918 whilst storming the Drocourt-Queant Line near Arras with his battalion. His achievement and eventual death were recorded on October 3rd 1918 in the Kenora Miner and News. Sincere thanks to Becky Johnson in Ontario for her help in locating this article, and to the Your Family Tree magazine forum at which allowed us to establish the connection between the Robert Currie she was researching on her local war memorial, and my family.


Mrs J. Holmes, Norman Receives Medal Won by Her Brother and An Account of Gallant Action

Mrs J. Holmes, Norman, this week received the Military Medal won by her gallant brother the late Lce.-Cpl. Robert Currie, in action in France. It was forwarded to her through the General Officer Commanding Military District No. 10, who says "In forwarding this decoration I desire to express my appreciation of the gallant conduct displayed by your brother on the field of battle, which merited the award of this military medal."

The following extract from the London Gazette, gives a short account of his conduct for which he was awarded the decoration:

"Lnc-Corpl. Currie, 199201, 16th Can. Infantry battalion - For his great bravery and personal initiative on Feb. 13. 1918. He commanded one of the leading sections of the raid and when unanticipated wire was encountered 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 rifle grenades the gunners were chased to their dugouts and the way made clear for the whole party. Lnce.Corpl Currie then led his party down the German front line bombing dug-outs 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 His section and the wounded were withdrawn with the utmost precision under his direction."

Mrs Holmes also received the following letter from Lieut. Elliott, giving an account of the death of her brother in action on September 2nd:

16th Batt. Can. Scottish, B.E.F.

Sept. 11th. 1918

Your Family Tree issue 120 - illustration
accompanying article on Robert
Dear Mrs Holmes - I thought you might like to hear about your brother Robert Currie from his platoon officer. I have just got back to the regiment from the hospital as I was wounded in the previous action on the 8th. Since my return I have been making enquiries so as to get some information. I find that Bob went over with his section and just before half way to the objective the platoon was stopped for a few minutes by a burst of machine gun bullets. Sgt. Earwaker says that Bob was killed instantaneously. I am glad to find that he had no suffering, it must have been just like stepping into Heaven. Bob was one of my best N.C.O.s was a clean lad in every way and was noticed amongst the brave lads for his coolness. he was always in good humour and knew how to take the rough with the smooth. It is very hard to lose him, and you have my deep sympathy as you have lost a very gallant brother. I was mighty proud of the platoon, even if the place was warm, they allways followed without hesitiation. Bob has done his big share towards the peace of the world.

Yours very sincerely


The history of my Currie family, originally from Maghera in County Londonderry in Ireland, is commemorated at

UPDATE: Since this first post I have managed to establish considerably more on Robert's story and service with the Canadian 94th and 16th Battalions, as well as his connections to Glasgow and Ireland. As a result an article was published about Robert in Your Family Tree magazine issue 120, and now the final part of the picture has come to light, again thanks to Becky's continued efforts in Canada. A photograph of Robert with fellow members of the 94th Battalion has been identified in the Lake of the Woods Museum, Kenora, Ontario, and is presented here with grateful thanks to both Becky and the museum. Robert is the second from the left in the back row.
Robert Currie with 94th battalion, back row, 2nd from left
(with kind permission of Lake of the Woods Museum, Kenora)