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Lew Currie

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Film has the unique magic of giving the dead a semblance of life that is not captured in the still photograph. This semblance of life can now be given to one of the men who gave us our inheritance of moving images: Private Lewis Luke “Lew” Currie who was Sergeant Alan Grayston’s driver and assistant. Currie was killed in action while filming near Carpiquet Airfield with Grayston. The circumstances of his death were painful to all who knew him, are are too common in war.

This short clip made at the end of on of Grayston’s rolls shot in Normandy caught my attention a year ago. I told Dale of my suspicions, but I thought little of it since I had not yet put it together with the other pieces of this puzzle. There were hours upon hours of other footage to be identified that took up the following months.  Then, while reviewing photos from PhotoNormandie, I saw two scans of unattributed photographs that brought that few seconds of fuzzy moving image to mind again. The D-Day anniversary is always a good time to put out material on social media to see what might come back. Soon after posting the clip, I was very pleased to hear from two very knowledgeable people in France: Frederick Jeanne and Michel Le Querrec who helped me assemble the clues into a identification of the man in the footage. By simply looking at the photos and the clip it should be evident to you too whois that is mugging for Al Grayston’s camera.

In the near future we look forward to a 4K scan of this film that should make the identification a certainty, but this is as good as it gets with the material available today. It is our sincere hope that by giving these flickering images of those who died their names back we can better remember them.

The discovery of this short clip comes from the voluntary work dome by many people around the world.

Firstly we should thank the D-Day Overlord non-profit organization who made digital copies of this film held in the US National Archive available on line. This and other digital copies of these films are mostly from VHS copies made some time ago, and lack the definition of newer 4K scans, but many of these are the only publicly available versions of these films. This small clip of Currie comes to us through this organization.

Most importantly are Michel Le Querrec and Patrick Peccatte of PhotosNormandie who make their discoveries available on Flickr. Many of these images are taken from prints made during the war by military public relations for the use of the world’s press. These photos have often lost the information about what is represented in them and M. Le Querrec in particular has done an exceptional job in identifying the date, location, and the people represented in these photos.

We should also recognize author Frederick Jeanne, who’s extensive knowledge of the Canadian battlefields in Normandy and his willingness to discuss the images has helped us put the clues together.

As Film and Photo Units filmed the events of the war, they also made photographs of the same events. These photos then become the key source of clues to identifying the fragments of footage shot by the Canadian Army Film Unit. It is extremely rare to find any true information about the film footage in records today, while information about the photographs has often survived in one or another collection. Even then, careful cross-referencing of sources is needed to confirm the information. Researching photographs has become the primary means of correctly identifying the orphaned footage of and by Canadians.

Ottawa Race Day – Vimy Challenge

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Today was race day in Ottawa for the Canada Army Run;

In what turned out to be a beautiful day, over 20,000 converged on Laurier and Elgin Streets in Ottawa to participate in this unique military event.

“More than anything, though, Canada Army Run, is about Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy – joining together in the spirit of camaraderie and community. It’s a chance for the troops to extend the military esprit de corps to Canadians and to thank them for their support. And, it’s an opportunity for Canadians to say thanks to the men and women who serve them in so many ways at home and abroad.”

Unique for this year was the Vimy Challengewhere participants run, walk or roll officially in BOTH the 5K, presented by General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada, and 10K events.” Vimy Challenge “was added to the 2017 Canada Army Run line-up to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge (First World War).” Also new this year was the introduction of Remembrance Row; “a section along the course showcasing signs of veterans who have passed away. These veterans are connected to you the participants, and we are calling on you for submissions.”

My submission for Remembrance Row was both Norman Quick, and Charles Ross, both of the Canadian Army Film & Photo Unit. Alas, only one of the profiles was allowed per participant and Norman Quick was selected to be featured along the course on race day.

The Vimy Challenge mandated that participants had to finish the first leg (5K) before the start of the second leg (10K), 45 minutes later. I knew that I could meet the requirement of running a 5K in under 45 minutes (from previous 5K Army Runs), but I forgot to take into account that with so many participants crowded at the start line, it might take me 10 minutes just to cross the start line!

Ultimately, I was able to ‘position’ myself close to the start line and was off without a problem. My next challenge was to locate Norman Quicks profile which I knew was featured somewhere along the race route. I spotted Norman Quicks profile along the Colonel By parkway, and decided I would grab some pictures during the second leg of the Challenge, the 10K. I wanted to keep going, feeling somewhat pressured to finish the 5K with time to regroup before the 10K.

In the end, it all worked out fine and I made the start of the 10K without a problem. When I happened upon Norms’ profile again, I stopped and struggled a bit to take a selfie of me and Norms’ profile. Fortunately, one of the participants made the effort to stop and took a few pictures of me posing with Norms profile. Big thank you to Mandy Wood for helping me out – it meant a lot to me!!

 

After the race I stopped by the Cenotaph to acknowledge the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to Canada.

-Lest We Forget-

 

Private Lewis Luke Currie was my Grandfather

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“Lewis Currie was my Dad’s father. Lewis’ mother died when he was eight, she died at the age of 31.

They lived in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. Lewis, his brother and three younger sisters were sent to different places because their father was unable [to take care of them].

Lewis was sent to the Antigonish Catholic organization, but ran away when he was 13. He found farm work in Enfield, Nova Scotia where he met my grandmother and had three children. They lived in a very small tarpaper shack; an old henhouse given to them by the owner of the farm. It caught fire some years later. Lewis and his friend built another little shack in Enfield.

When Lewis first tried to join the war he was suffering from malnutrition, [and had to try again] six months later where he successfully enlisted.

His firstborn is my father Arthur Currie, I think named after a General in ww2.* Lewis died at age 31 when Dad was 10 yrs old.

Lewis still has a daughter in Nova Scotia named Margaret Walker…I bought her the book “War Through the Lens by Dan Conlin”…it has some info on Lewis Currie.

Private Lew Currie the driver for Grayson was my grandfather…I only have one photo of him in the army…would really appreciate it if you could find anymore.”


Gallery photographs courtesy Veterans Affairs Canada.

*Sir Arthur William Currie was the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps during the First World War.
PHOTO: Pte. Lewis L. Currie and his medals courtesy of the Currie family.

 Hi Vera, thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story of your grandfather, Pte. Lewis Currie with me.
I also have a note that your grandfather was on hand when the Public Relations billet (chateau) came under mortar fire in France on June 13th, 1944. There is video of the aftermath on the British Pathe Archives YouTube page (see link below) – the footage also contains candid shots of Sgt.s Bill Grant, and Frank Dubervill that appeared in my article, Risen From the Ashes.


Possibly…..your grandfather is seen in the footage????? It is almost impossible to identify the personnel, but he was definitely on hand during the mortar fire.
I also came across a Universal Newsreel for July 4, 1944, that shows footage of a burning carrier and battle footage that the narrator describes below. I believe it is footage that was shot by Grayston when your grandfather was killed. I am not sure if you are interested in the video but I can see if there is a way to get it to you.

Universal Newsreel: 11 Liberation Of France Forges On, 1944/07: Universal Newsreel Narrator: “After a well earned rest, following the landing battles in Normandy, the Canadians return to the thick of the fighting at Carpiquet. So severe is the fighting that some of the Canadian camera crew were killed while filming these shots.” 


Thank you very much once more for sharing your story with me and visitors to the Film Unit website.
Sincerely
Dale Gervais
Ottawa