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Currie, Patrick (1883–1949)

by Darryl McIntyre

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Patrick Currie (1883-1949), soldier and teacher, was born on 2 August 1883 at Petrie Creek, near Caboolture, Queensland, son of Daniel Currie, farmer, and his wife Bridget, née Neylon. Educated at Nambour State School, in 1898 he became a teacher with the Queensland Education Department. He resigned in 1908, spent two and a half years in Ellis Kadoorie College, Hong Kong, rejoined the Queensland department, and on 11 October 1911 married Kitty Gallwey in St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane.

With a strong interest in the militia, Currie was commissioned as a lieutenant in the cadets in 1906; he had attained the rank of captain on the eve of World War I. Joining the Australian Imperial Force on 28 April 1915, in May he was promoted major in 'B' Company, 26th Battalion, drawn from Queensland and Tasmania. They embarked in June and were placed in reserve at Anzac Cove until they relieved the 28th Battalion in the trenches; on 30 November Currie was appointed second-in-command, and next day he was wounded in the forehead while on an inspection tour and was sent to hospital.

Rejoining his battalion in Egypt in January 1916 Currie took command of 'A' Company. The unit went to France in March and on 7 June relieved the 28th in the line near Pozières. In a major allied attack on the night of 4-5 August, Currie jumped over the parapet to take his wave forward and, exposed to heavy enemy fire, led his men to seize their objective. Although wounded he displayed consistent gallantry for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Currie was given command of the 7th Training Brigade in Britain until June 1917, and returned to the 26th Battalion. In March 1918 he took command of the West Australian 28th Battalion, with the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel. During the Passchendaele and Somme operations his gallantry won him the C.M.G. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre and twice mentioned in dispatches. He returned to Australia in 1919. A very big man with snow-white hair and moustache, Currie looked much older than he was. Nicknamed 'Snow' or 'Snowy', his experience as a teacher had given him a good understanding of his men, most of whom he knew by name and ability. He was a popular commander who exercised firm but humane control and knew when to turn a Nelsonian eye.

Currie failed to win the Brisbane seat in the Legislative Assembly as a soldier-Nationalist in 1920. Appointed as brevet major, he commanded the 42nd Battalion in the militia from 1931 to 1934. He had resumed his career with the Queensland Education Department, taught in Brisbane primary schools and on 31 December 1948 retired as headmaster of New Farm primary school. In 1939-45 he served as assistant officer in charge of troops on the troopships Queen Elizabeth and Aquitania in the Middle East and Java, and later as officer-in-charge on the troopships Taroona and Awkui in New Guinea.

Currie died on 6 January 1949 from heart disease in Toombul, Brisbane, and was buried in the Catholic section of Lutwyche cemetery. He was survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons, of whom Neal Lincoln (1914-1975) became a professional soldier, was a prisoner of war in 1941-45 and died as a brigadier and deputy master general of the ordnance.

Select Bibliography

  • O'M. Creagh and E. M. Humphris, The V.C. and D.S.O. (Lond, 1924)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1918 (Syd, 1942), and Anzac to Amiens (Canb, 1946)
  • H. K. Kahan, The 28th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force: A Record of War Service (Perth, 1965)
  • London Gazette, 26 Sept 1916, supplement, 3 June 1919, supplement
  • Queensland Digger, Feb 1949
  • Listening Post, 15 Dec 1938
  • AIF war diaries, 26th Battalion, 1915-16, and 28th Battalion, 1918-19 (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Darryl McIntyre, 'Currie, Patrick (1883–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/currie-patrick-5854/text9953, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 24 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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