Jun 132015
 

David Vivian Currie, VC, CD was born July 8, 1912 and served in the Second World War with the 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (South Alberta Regiment). Currie was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry while in command of a group of tanks and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada infantry while posted at St. Lambert-sur-Dives.

Currie was given the task “on 18 August 1944 to capture and hold the village of St Lambert-sur-Dives during the fighting to block the escape route of large German forces cut off in the Falaise pocket.[2]” “The Germans were out in the open; the Canadians were dug in. ‘We were lucky,’ Currie said, ‘We suffered no casualties from our own guns, but it had a very devastating effect on the Germans.’” [3]

The London Gazette article of Friday November 1944 recounts the honour when King George V1 pinned the Victoria Cross on Currie’s Chest. Currie was rushed to Buckingham Palace to receive the award. This newspaper article says; “The courage and devotion to duty shown by Major Currie during a prolonged period of heavy fighting were outstanding and had a far-reaching effect on the successful outcome of the battle.” “When had he first heard of the award? Well his unit commander had called him in. He just said, “You’re now Major Currie, V.C.” How did he feel? Well it was a jolt. He had to sit down very suddenly to get over the shock.”[1]

Currie had joined the militia in 1939, and the Regular Army in 1940. He moved quickly up the ranks, promoted to Lieutenant and then to Captain by 1941. In 1944 he was awarded the rank of Major.

Currie retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Upon retirement from the militia, he served eighteen years as a Sergeant at Arms in the Canadian House of Commons. Currie was also awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration ( “CD”) which is bestowed upon Canadian Forces personnel after completion of twelve years military service

The Lt. Colonel D.V. Currie Armoury In Moose Jaw is named in his honour as is Currie Avcnue in Montgomery Place of the City of Saskatoon. Ontario has erected an historical plaque in his honour.

Currie was born in the town of Sutherland, Saskatchewan. The town was annexed in 1956 as a neighbourhood in the city of Saskatoon. Currie survived the war, passing away June 20 1986 at the age of 73 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Bibliography:
1944: Major David Currie battles in Normandy, wins V.C. CBC.ca. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Armstrong, Bart. Trained as an Auto Mechanic and Welder, goes off to war and proves Heroic. Reocmmended for DSO, but gets awarded the Victoria Cross. January 19, 2014. Canadian Medal of Honor. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Boswell, Randy and Lynn McAuley. Province with a Heart: Celebrating 100 Years in Saskatchewan Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post. Edition illustrated. CanWest Books, 2005. ISBN 0973671904, 9780973671902. Digitized online by Google Books. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Coneghan, Daria and David G. Marshall. Victoria Cross Saskatchewan Recipients. Canadian Plains Research Center. University of Regina. 2006.

David Vivian Currie Wikipedia. June 11, 2015. Version ID 666496322 Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Victoria Cross Winners The Saskatchewan Dragoons. 24 Aug 2003. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

[1] Scott, Lieut. Jack. Major Currie Given jolt when told of V.C. award. The Maple Leaf. November 28, 1944. Google news archive. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

[2] Victoria Cross – Second World War, 1939-1945. David Vivian Currie. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. 2009-04-14 Date accessed June 13, 2015.

David Vivian Currie Badass of the Week. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Victoria Cross recipient and Second World War tough buy: Major David Vivian Currie December 2, 2014. Discover Blog. Library and Archives Canada Blog. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

[3] Whitaker, Shelagh and Dennis Whitaker. Normandy: The Real Story Edition unabridged. Random House Publishing Group, 2009. ISBN 0307538974, 9780307538970. Digitized online by Google Books. Date accessed June 13, 2015.

Sep 252013
 

 

V34087 John Thompson (age 24), a cook aboard HMCS Regina and the son of Robert Parker and Helena Thompson of Prince Albert was one of the seamen honoured on Sunday 22 September 2013 at an unveiling ceremony held on Navy Way in Regina in front of the HMCS Queen naval reserve unit.

The Friends of the Navy have honoured Royal Canadian Navy sailors who hail from Saskatchewan, particularly those who fell in World War II. The new Saskatchewan Naval monument honours the naval ships, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Weyburn and HMCS Regina which were both lost during World War II. HMCS Weyburn was commemorated earlier during the centennial year of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2010 on the 67th anniversary of its sinking. (One other naval vessel paid tribute to a Saskatchewan community, HMCS Waskesiu survived the war and was sold to the Indian navy in 1950.)

HMCS Weyburn (K 173) was a flower class corvette mainly serving in the Battle of the Atlantic. This smaller ship was needed as an escort ship and equipped by minesweeping gear. However, on 22 February 1943 at 11:17AM the Weyburn struck a large SSMA (Sonder Mine A) magnetic mine laid by German submarine U-118 three weeks earlier. The mine, new technology for the time, could be laid as deep as 350 meters, and the Weyburn was one of its first victims. Of the 83 officers and men aboard the Weyburn 12 died and there were 71 survivors.

HMCS Regina (K 234) was another Saskatchewan namesake for the province’s capital city. HMCS Regina was also a flower class corvette engaged in escort duties in the Second World War. The American liberty ship the Ezra Weston was a cargo vessel carrying war material to the theatre of war when she took a torpedo from U-667. Her only escort was the HMCS Regina which was under the impression that the merchant ship had fallen victim to a mine. When the Regina turned to assist the flailing ship and pick up survivors, the U-boat then also fired on the corvette. Within 30 seconds on 8 August 1944 at 9:27PM one officer and 27 men were killed.

Robert Watkins, a prairie sailor out of Winnipeg, sums it up this way: “During the war the one thing I was scared of was the submarines, if the supply lines from Canada and the US had dried up on account of the U-boats Britain would have gone under.”

Alongside John Thompson, V11460 Douglas Peter Robertson RCNVR , son of Robert Angus and Elizabeth Jane Robertson of Saskatoon, fell 8 August 1944 in his capacity as Petty Officer Stoker aboard HMCS Regina. As well, V34478 John Charles Henry Rathbone RCNVR , son of John and Florence Rathbone of Regina, who took on the duties of supply assistant, did not survive his wounds incurred that fatal evening. These three Saskatchewan prairie naval reservists lost their lives along with their crew mates, British and Canadian sailors.

The Fall Action Stations magazine reports that “exactly how many Saskatchewanians served in the RCN during the war is hard to estimate as many volunteered at recruiting offices outside the province. And due to wartime staffing pressures, sailors from a particular city or town rarely served on the ship bearing its name.”

For instance, V11616 Joseph McGrath, son of Margaret McGrath of Saskatoon, served aboard HMCS Athabaskan and was one of those honoured in the commemorative naming program of the Saskatchewan Geographic Names Board with the naming of McGrath Lake. Natural geographic features across Saskatchewan honour armed forces personnel and merchant sailors from the Second World War and the Korean War, and also those who fell during peacekeeping missions or in Afghanistan.

The Naval Memorial erected at a cost of about $3,000 was spearheaded by Doug Archer, chairman of the Friends of the Navy, and Steve Smedley. There are over 6,000 war memorials in Canada remembering those who fought with courage. Saskatoon’s Next of Kin Memorial Avenue at Woodlawn cemetery is a national historic site. Both the Regina cemetery and the North Battleford cemetery are homes to two of the 28 Crosses of Sacrifice. Alongside these memorials, the Royal Canadian Legion branches and towns across Saskatchewan have erected monuments and cenotaphs honouring those who fell in military service from their community.

Quoting Lieutenant James Balfour, himself a prairie seaman, serving in the naval reserve stemmed from “the belief that there are things that are more important than just you as an individual, it’s about serving your country and doing something for the good of others.”

Terrence McEachern of the Leader Post quoted Doug Archer, former mayor of Regina: “We are so truly blessed that others have gone before us to preserve our freedom and our democracy. We need to honour them and never forget the contribution they’ve made.”

Article written by Julia Adamson

Bibliography

Crewlist from HMCS Weyburn ( 173) Canadian Corvette) Ships hit by German U-=boats Uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

Crewlist from HMCS Regina 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

Falloon, Dan Veteran hoping to commemorate fellow sailors. 04 24 2013. Winnipeg Free Press.

For Posterity’s Sake Canadian Genealogy HMCS Weyburn K173 Corvette Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K 234) of the Royal Canadian Navy – Canadian Corvette of the Flower class – Allied warships of WWII uboat.net. 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K 234) Canadian K 234) (Canadian Corvette) ships hit by German U boats during WWII 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Regina (K234) Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia

HMCS Weyburn (K173) (Canadian Corvette) Ships hit by German U-boats during WWII uboat.net 1995 – 2013 Guðmundur Helgason

HMCS Weyburn (K173) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. id version =571908407.

Home/About Government/News Releases/November 2006/New Commemorative Naming Program to Recognize Saskatchewan Heroes. Government of Saskatchewan. c/o Grant Bastedo. Information Services Corporation of Saskatchewan ISC

Joseph McGrath – The Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Records and Collections. Veteran’s Affairs Canada. Government of Canada. 2013-07-29.

Mceachern, Terrence. Monument honours Navy seamen from Sask the Leader-Post, republished he StarPhoenix. 23 September 2013. 2010 – 2013 Postmedia Network Inc.

Naval Memorial Installation. Friends of the Navy.

 

Volume 2 Part 1 Extant Commissioned Ships. HMCS Regina. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. DHH Home. Histories. 2006-07-07. Government of Canada.

Jul 202013
 

The number of airmen killed in the early days of the war was exceptionally high, indeed an airman who survived training had a reasonable prospect of surviving the war. For example five Saskatchewan fliers were among the graduates at No 7 B&GS in the fall of 1941. Continue reading »

May 192013
 

This article from the Moose Jaw Times Herald dated January 15, 1941, is significant for two reasons. It is the first ‘official’ reference to the aircrew training program as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Previous articles referred to the program by several names but now it was officially noted as the BCATP. The boys received their ‘wings’ but training continued – usually at Operational Training Units (OTU) overseas, with some OTU flights participating in actual raids. Continue reading »

May 062013
 

The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, the same group of regiments that participated in the Dieppe raid (qv) in 1942, captured Verrières Ridge 19 to 21 July 1944. The South Saskatchewan Regiment led the charge up the gentle slopes of the ridge between Caen and Falaise, but were forced to withdraw in disarray after a fierce enemy counterattack. It was the second bloodiest day of the war (after Dieppe) for the regiment which suffered 66 fatal casualties, 116 wounded and lost 26 prisoners. The Essex Scottish and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders followed the prairie men into the line and the march to Falaise continued. Continue reading »

May 062013
 

The Nerissa was built at Glasgow in 1926 for the north Atlantic passenger/cargo business of the Red Cross line. She later served Caribbean ports out of New York while bearing the colours of the Furness Withy group before being pressed into war service as a troop carrier. Continue reading »