Albert Alexander CURRIE

CURRIE, Albert Alexander

Service Number: 4175
Enlisted: 21 July 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 59th Infantry Battalion
Born: South Melbourne Victoria, Australia, April 1893
Home Town: Tocumwal, Berrigan, New South Wales
Schooling: Dorcas Street, State School, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Hairdresser
Died: Killed in Action, France, 12 December 1916
Cemetery: London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Tocumwal Memorial Hall Honour Rolls, Tocumwal War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

21 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4175, 7th Infantry Battalion
29 Dec 1915: Involvement Private, 4175, 7th Infantry Battalion
29 Dec 1915: Embarked Private, 4175, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Demosthenes, Melbourne
12 Aug 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 7th Infantry Battalion
11 Sep 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 59th Infantry Battalion
1 Oct 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 59th Infantry Battalion
12 Dec 1916: Involvement Corporal, 4175, 59th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Albert Alexander Currie's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

"I knew Currie from the time of his joining the Battalion. He was in my section and came from Victoria. In build he was short and thin ... Currie and I were on fatigue work carrying duck boards to the Sunken Road between Reserve and Support. I was about 30 yards from him when a whiz bang came and killed him instantly ..." (A. W. Triffet, 59th Battalion).

"... he was killed by a whizz-bang that killed two and wounded two ... I saw the cross being taken up to his grave. He was a chum of mine. In business he was a barber and I think his people now live in Melbourne ..." (Sergeant D. O'Brien, 5164)

Known as 'Alick', he was a younger brother of Sergeant Arthur William Currie who was killed in action during September 1917. Albert (Alick) was shown as living at Tocumwal, his attestation suggesting his father, mother and another brother Walter, (born 1889) were "in business" in Deniliquin Road, Tocumwal, and as Albert and Arthur were both listed as hairdressers, this may well have been the family calling.


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Francois Somme

Cpl 4175 Albert Alexander Currie,
59th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company,
15th Brigade, 5th Australian Division

The fields of the Somme, today silent under the cold of autumn, were more than a hundred years ago, gorged with the blood and tears of a whole generation of young men who endured and lived side by side a hell of flames and steel that decimated their ranks in a senseless war that drove the world into a murderous madness that brought death and desolation on the battlefields but also in homes around the world that were shattered by cold telegrams that announced to them that their sons, their husbands, their men, after so much suffering endured in the trenches and the mud of distant soils, after a last courageous assault towards the enemy lines, gave their lives with bravery through the poppies of the Somme alongside their brothers in arms who, still young and proud, stand in united ranks behind the countless rows of shadows from their white graves on which are forever remembered and honored in an eternity of peace and silence bathed in light,the memory of their lives, their courage and of their sacrifices, of their today that they gave for our tomorrow under the fire of shells and machine guns that mowed them down at an appalling pace but beyond death, in remembrance they will live forever and with respect, with dignity and gratitude, I will always watch over them with loyalty to preserve and perpetuate their memory so that their names and faces, in our hearts, may live forever.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, of one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow and for all of us who did not know them all but to whom we owe so much. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Corporal number 4175 Albert Alexander Currie who fought in the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 15th Brigade, 5th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 106 years ago, on December 12, 1916 at the age of 23 on the Somme front.

Albert Alexander Currie,who was affectionately known as "Alick" by his comrades,was born in 1893 in Melbourne,Victoria,Australia,and was the son of Albert Alexander and Elizabeth Currie,of Tocumwal,New South Wales.He was educated at the State School,Dorcas Street,South Melbourne, Victoria,was a member of the Tocumwal Rifle Club,and before the outbreak of the war worked as a hairdresser and barber with his father,mother and brother in Deniliquin Street,Tocumwal.

Albert enlisted on July 21, 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, as a Private in the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion, 13th Reinforcement, and after a five-month training period at Broadmeadows Camp, north of Melbourne, embarked with his unit from Melbourne, on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on December 29, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

On March 18, 1916, Albert arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Serapeum then on March 26, with the 7th Battalion, joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria and proceeded overseas for the war and the battlefields of northern France on board HMAT Megantic.

On March 31, 1916, after less than a week of an uneventful voyage on the Mediterranean Sea, Albert arrived in France and was disembarked at the port of Marseilles then marched to Orange from where they embarked by train for Godewaersvelde where they arrived in the afternoon of April 3rd, a trip which was unfortunately marked by the death of a Canadian soldier who was hit by the train. At 3pm, all the men of the 7th Battalion were disembarked from the train and moved to an area near Godewaersvelde called "La Creche" where they were billeted and followed a period of training which ended on April 14.

On April 15, 1916, Albert and his comrades of the 7th Battalion left the sector of "La Creche" and marched for the village of Hallaubeau with a force of 993 men and remained there until April 29, then the following day, were sent into billets at Fleurbaix described as "in very dirty condition". After that, the 7th Battalion was employed in the construction of communications trenches under the fire of German artillery and very active enemy airplanes in the sector which caused numerous casualties then alongside his unit, Albert, during working parties, improved their shelters and on May 14, relieved the 5th Australian Infantry Battalion in the trenches to the right of Fleurbaix, fortified their positions with sand bags and barbed wire lines and had the support of Australian artillery which caused heavy damage on the German lines.

On May 17, 1916, the 7th Battalion faced a gas attack and held their position all day with their gas masks on their faces, suffocating in the heat but held their positions with admirable courage then on June 9, were relieved by the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion and marched for Sailly-Sur-La-Lys leaving behind 72 men killed in action.

On June 10, 1916, the men of the 7th Battalion arrived into billets at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys and received orders from Sir Douglas Haig informing them of the death of Lord Kitchener on June 5 during the sinking of HMS Hampshire and then followed a new period of training including anti-gas drills. On June 19 they marched for Neuve-Eglise, reached La Grande-Munque on June 22 and two days later moved for Ploegsteert, in the Ypres salient, and came under fire from German artillery particularly active in this sector.

On June 28, 1916 in Ploegsteert, the 7th Battalion received orders to support a raid led by The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment). At first, poison gas was to be used to cover the progress of the Buffs but following unfavorable winds , this was canceled but nevertheless, after fierce fire from the Australian artillery on the enemy lines, the men of the Royal East Kent Regiment, on the night of June 28 to 29, at 00:10 am, came out of their trenches but the raid was not a success and captured only three rifles and lost six men in the German trenches.On June 29, Australian artillery pounded the German lines with high-explosive shells but also used gas shells then on July 4, 1916, three days after the start of the great British offensive on the Somme, the 7th Battalion was relieved by the 18th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and by the 11th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment and moved back to Neuve-Eglise.

On July 5, 1916 at 7:00 pm, the men of the 7th Battalion arrived in their bivouacs in Neuve-Eglise then followed physical and combat exercises including bayonet fights then on July 9, received orders for the next day to move for the front of the Somme. The next day, the whole battalion embarked by train at the railway station of Bailleul and arrived at Doullens on July 11 then, after a short rest, marched through Berthaucourt, Talmas, Cardonette, and arrived in Billets at Rainneville on the 14 July where they saw with surprise, despite the damage inflicted on the villages, men, women and children celebrating the National Day and welcomed the Australians with great warmth and respect. It is noted, in the battalion war diary for this day that the battalion was "in a fine cheerful and determined spirit" and remained here until July 16 and then the next day, moving to Varennes where new combat exercises were conducted, including village and wood fights.
On July 20, 1916, Albert and his comrades left Varennes, marched through Hedauville, Senlis, Bouzincourt and arrived in Albert at the end of the day and faced a gas alarm but the battalion suffered no losses and at that time had a force of 981 men. Two days later, the time had come for the 7th Battalion to join the front line and entered the trenches located at Contalmaison, north of Pozieres, and formed the right flank of the British front in what was for the 7th Battalion but also for the entire Australian Imperial Force, the first major engagement but also the deadliest battle of the Somme.

At Pozieres, the 1st Division was committed to the attack on the village from 23 July, involving the reduction of the "Gibraltar" blockhouse among other tasks. The enemy shelling was relentless and casualties mounted at a horrifying is noted in the battalion's war diary that very many men suffered from shell shock. The battle of Pozieres was hell on earth but the 7th Battalion fought and held their positions with exceptional bravery then were relieved on July 27 and moved back for Albert. In just five days of fighting in Pozieres, the battalion, almost annihilated, had lost 310 men killed in action.

On July 28,1916, Albert and the 7th Battalion left the town of Albert and marched to Vadencourt for a period of rest and reorganization then on July 31, moved to Canaples where they remained until August 7 and then were sent to La Vicogne. A few days later, on August 12, Albert was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal and the following month, on September 11, was transferred and taken on strength in the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion,A Company, near Ypres.
The 59th Australian Infantry Battalion was the third of four Battalions of the 15th Brigade all drawn largely from Victoria.They were created as part of the "doubling of the AIF" in Egypt after the withdrawal from Gallipoli.They were to become part of the 5th Division, raised in Egypt for the Western Front.The 59th was the "pup" Battalion of the 7th Battalion.Like its parent , most of its men came from rural Victoria,and was under the command of Brigadier General Harold "Pompey" Elliot.
On September 17, 1916, Albert was sent to a grenade school of instruction and joined his unit on September 22.On october 1,he was promoted to the rank of Corporal then from September 28 to October 12, had a new period of training in a grenade school of instruction before returning to his battalion on October 13 in Estaires (Hauts-De-France).
In Estaires, the 59th Battalion followed a period of training including physical exercises and bayonet fights then on October 18, marched for Bailleul from where they embarked by bus for the Somme, for a new hell that Albert already knew too well.
On October 18 at 6:50pm, the 59th Battalion arrived in the Somme, in the small village of Longpre then marched into Villers-Sous-Ailly for a new period of training conducted in a good spirit, exercises including once again battles with bayonets and rifle exercises. A few days later, on October 22, they moved to Ribemont then reached a camp at Montauban, near the front line and could already observe the Australian artillery pounding the German lines between Flers and Gueudecourt, located only a few miles away and on October 30, entered the trenches, on a line called "Carlton Trench", near Gueudecourt where they fought until November 2 and marched for Dernancourt the following day.

On November 3, 1916, the 59th Battalion arrived at Dernancourt where a reorganization was carried out then on November 6, marched through Buire, Ribemont, Heilly, Bonnay, Daours, Coisy, Bertangles and arrived at Flesselles later the same day, in billets described as "in good condition" and had a training period here which ended on November 17 then the same day, moved back to Dernancourt and Montauban where they joined a camp called "A Camp" where they remained until November 20 and the following day, joined the trenches, the mud and the blood of the battlefields and entered the "Needle Trench", in Flers where four days earlier, on November 17, the men of the 5th and 7th Brigade launched a powerful attack against a system of heavily fortified German trenches known as "The Maze". The attack was initially successful but the Australians were repulsed by a surprise attack on November 19.

On November 23, 1916, the 59th Battalion was relieved by the 57th Australian Infantry Battalion and marched to the "D Camp" located a few kilometers from Flers for a period of rest which were the last moments of peace for Albert who, on December 10, with his unit, moved back to the trenches of Flers then on December 12, moved further north, near Gueudecourt, on a front line known as "Zenith Trench" where the same day Albert met his fate and was killed in action by a shell. He was only 23 years old.

His death was described by two of his comrades as follows:
"I knew Currie from the time of his joining the Battalion. He was in my section and came from Victoria. In build he was short and thin.Currie and I were on fatigue work carrying duck boards to the Sunken Road between Reserve and Support. I was about 30 yards from him when a whiz bang came and killed him instantly." (A. W. Triffet, 59th Battalion).
"He was killed by a whizz-bang that killed two and wounded two.I saw the cross being taken up to his grave. He was a chum of mine. In business he was a barber and I think his people now live in Melbourne" (Sergeant D. O'Brien, 5164)

Unfortunately, after his death, very violent fighting took place where Albert was buried and his grave was lost and his name was inscribed on the walls of the Australian National memorial in Villers-Bretonneux but well after the war, in January 1939, the remains of Albert were found and identified and was buried with military honors at London Cemetery And Extension, Longueval, Somme, where he rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms.

Albert Alexander Currie had a brother who also fought with courage. His name was Arthur William Currie, fought in the 59th Australian Infantry Battalion but was unfortunately killed in action on September 26, 1917 at the age of 25 during the battle of Polygon Wood, in Belgium, and now rests in peace at Oxford Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, and his grave bears the following inscription: "He gave his life but not in vain. He rests for ever in a hero's grave."
Albert, Arthur, you who were only at the dawn of a life full of promises and hopes, it is with determination and courage that you answered together the call of duty to serve your country with pride and loyalty on the battlefields alongside your comrades and brothers in arms who together, like you, with you, fought with their heads held high in the name of peace and freedom in the darkness of the trenches, in the mud of Belgium and France, through the poppy fields of the Somme which, in four years of endless war, were forever bruised by the relentless brutality of a fury that drove the world and a whole generation of young men into madness murderous battles during which so many innocent souls fought and were broken through the barbed wire in which so much tears and blood were shed so that peace could prevail above all and for which so many men, in the prime of their lives, gave their today walking with conviction, with hopes and loyalty alongside their friends and brothers who, side by side, with the deep desire to fight and do what was right, singing, the smiles lighting up their young faces, headed towards their destinies and towards the uncertain days, towards the front line and a horizon broken by the thunder and the flashes of the artillery which, in interminable duels,erased from the map, villages once full of life and which, spitting tons of shells, decimated in a few minutes, in a few days, entire regiments who were buried alive, crushed by an outburst of fury that was the great war.In the infamous quagmires of the Somme which were no more than fields of death and despair, the young Diggers moved forward with tenacity, with bravery and perseverance while the bullets mowed down their ranks on the lunar grounds of Pozieres which was a hell on land but nevertheless, in this first engagement which was for them also the bloodiest, the most deadly, they charged bayonets forward under the shrapnel, under the gas, through the raging fire of machine guns thirsty for flesh and blood and saw their friends, their brothers, their fathers who fell one after the other in nauseating mud, in shell craters in which friends and enemies died together after throwing themselves on each other and killed each other in baths of blood but in spite of catastrophic losses, in spite of so much suffering endured, they did not stop moving forward and paid for each step forward by the sacrifice of so many of them who never had the chance to return home but who found in France, on the sacred lands of the Somme, the silence of their last resting places behind their wooden crosses on which their friends mourned their loss.With the most extreme bravery, always in the front line, again and again under fire, the Australians, alongside their French and British brothers in arms, together, in a common front, never stopped fighting and held on to Flers, in Gueudecourt, the front line in this infernal winter of 1916 which was for them the most terrible of this year which was also the deadliest of the Battle of the Somme, in a war which was to put an end to all wars but which marked the beginning of the deadliest century in history.More than a hundred years have passed but here, in the Somme, in Amiens, in Villers-Bretonneux, in Flers, Gueudecourt, Dernancourt, Bazentin, Pozieres, we never forget what the Diggers, the young Australians did for us, guided by the ANZAC spirit and we will always watch over them with the same love that our ancestors had for these young men who were deeply admired and loved by the French people and who were adopted as our sons and in front of whom I will always walk with respect, with love and gratitude to perpetuate their memory so that their names live forever. Thank you so much Albert Arthur for everything. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.