167 Albert James Currie was born on the 23rd September 1889 in the country town of Inverell to parents James Archibald and Sarah Jane (nee Carson ). Albert had 4 brothers Ernest Douglas b 1892, William M b 1894, Arthur Henry b 1896 and Robert Edward b 1897 and also a sister Amy Lila b 1887.
When Albert enlisted he was one month shy of his 25th Birthday and had been working as a station hand, and was placed as a driver with the engineers in the 1st FCE.
Albert originally a driver, at his own request reverted to rank of Sapper and was at Gallipoli up to 22nd September where he was re-mustered again as a driver and transferred to Mex and then to Maardi, Egypt.
On the 28th March he arrived in France with the 1st FCE and in July had once again at his own request, reverted to rank of sapper. During his service in France he was promoted ultimately holding rank of 2nd/Cpl. During his service he was a reliable vice to fellow originals who were also 2nd /Cpls, 66 Norman Masters, 250 Fred Wicks, 100 Roland McNair, 80 George Bygraves.
On the 4th of October the 1st Field Company helped to capture Passchendaele Ridge. They followed the second wave of the Infantry and when the ridge was captured the company proceeded to consolidate the position by forming a strong point.
At 1.30 in the afternoon a German aeroplane came over at a low altitude and had spied their position and turned back to inform the German batteries. The German batteries then opened fire and sent a salve into the company’s position on the ridge, a barrage of heavy shelling that lasted for the remainder of the day and ultimately at great cost to the Allied forces.
The following is the citation giving an Account of Albert’s actions on this day……
‘During the operations east of YPRES on 4th October 1917, he was employed on the construction of a Strong Point on BECELAERE Ridge. Although his post came under heavy shell fire all day he carried out his work in a very conscientious manner and set a worthy example of tenacity and coolness. He assisted in rendering first aid to several wounded of his section who became casualties under very heavy shell fire. At all times he showed a very high standard for courage and set a fine example to those under him.’
Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 31
Date: 7 March 1918
The following is also his own account of how that day ended for him…….
“……. I was wounded and buried alive as a shell exploded and the trench was blown upon us, but I was rescued before I was smothered….Albert Currie
His good mates 66 Norman Masters and 99 John Jackson were by his side at the Ypres stunt and helped dig him out. Due to the actions of Masters and Jackson, Albert Currie was lucky enough not to be killed.
He suffered a gun shot wound and multiple contusions to his legs, concussion and his heart was found to be slightly dilated and as a result was invalided from the western front and three weeks later was admitted to the Cambridge Hospital Aldershot, England.
This was a destructive day for the Allied forces as it was for all the members of the 1st FCE. It was a day that originals were lost and a day that many were honoured for their extraordinary efforts, Albert was one of these men.
The above image is from the AWM unit war diaries,October 1917, and Major Richard Dyer’s list of recommendations for Honours, Albert’s name is at the top of list, right hand side. He was awarded the Military Medal which was gazetted in London on 14th Dec 1917.
Albert’s letter of application for the Gallipoli medal in 1967 is a great letter outlining his service and recalling the day he was buried and saved by his mates.
It is important to note, apart from the fine hand writing for a man who was now 77 years old, he also points out he was at Gallipoli up to the evacuation, indicating that his service record may not be accurate and some details may be missing.
Albert returned home in March 1918 and was discharged in Sydney in July 1918.
In 1922 Albert married Dorothy Maude Thomas and in 1930 they were living at Farm 1615 Yenda, his father was also at the same address.
In 1967 he was still living in Griffith with Dorothy and still looking after his orchards at 25 Kooba street Griffith
Albert died on the 4th July 1970 aged 80 years in Griffith.
Current information to hand is that his great grandson is a Combat Engineer in the Australian Army.
AWM, NLA, NAA
For further reading AWM Unit War diaries link to complete October 1917 – Oct 1917 RCDIG1008698
Coloured Portrait of Albert Currie MM – Photo courtesy of Jill Bamforth grand daughter private collection.
Portrait of Albert Currie MM – Photo courtesy of Beverly Prior private collection