As we approach the end of the centenary of the Battle of Arras, we share the tragic story of Private Currie, who fought valiantly throughout the battle, but lost his life in the final days.
John Moffat Currie, an 18-year old butcher from Govan, was conscripted in the summer of 1916 along with many men from Glasgow, and became Private Currie (285022) of the 1/6th Seaforth Highlanders.
Son to James and Catherine Currie, John was the second oldest child in a family of 11 children, and he followed in the footsteps of older brother Hugh to serve on the front line. He would have travelled with the 1/6th (Morayshire) Battalion for service, as part of 17 Battalions from the Regiment.
Private Currie’s battalion was involved from the very beginning of the battle, however, as 18,000 fellow Scots fell, he continued to fight on to the end, tragically dying on the 15 May 1917, the penultimate day of the battle, after being fatally wounded.
His mother would have been sent a telegram informing her of the terrible news, however, she was also sent the news in a letter from her elder son Hugh, who had been wounded and was in hospital at the time. Likely typed and sent by a volunteer at the hospital, the heartbreaking letter, dated 17 May 1917, reads:
Just a few lines to let you know that John was killed on the 15th. He never suffered a moment’s pain. I am sorry it is my lot to tell you this awful news, mother, because it will break your heart.
I am in hospital myself with a slight wound in the leg, but expect to be about again in a few days. My heart is too sore to write to you mother, I know what pain that will cause you, but cheer up mother, there is bound to be brighter days in store for us. I think I will close now mother, as I don’t know what to talk about.
From your loving son,
Little is known of Hugh’s service, other than the fact he was wounded and spent some time at a hospital in England, ultimately surviving the war.
Private John Moffat Currie now rests in Brown’s Copse Cemetery, in a village about 8 kilometers east of Arras. The cemetery contains 2,072 burials and commemorations of men of the First World War, 862 of whom are sadly unidentified. John’s brother, James Currie, and nephew, Jim Currie, visited the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in 1985 to commemorate him. James is pictured by his grave below.