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Ethelbert 'Curley' Christian

After suffering injuries in the Battle of Vimy Ridge that left him a quadruple amputee, ‘Curley’ Christian helped establish a program for disabled Veterans which is still offered today.

Toronto, Ontario

First World War
Curley Christian

Ethelbert ‘Curley’ Christian was born in the United States. He eventually settled in Canada where he enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1915 during the First World War.

On 9 April  1917, Christian was serving with the 78th Canadian Infantry Battalion (the Winnipeg Grenadiers) during the Battle of Vimy Ridge when heavy artillery fire buried him in a trench. All four limbs were crushed by debris and the wounded soldier was trapped for two days. Found barely alive, Christian cheated death again when two of his stretcher bearers were killed by enemy fire while carrying him from the battlefield.

Christian survived but unfortunately, due to gangrene,  both arms and both legs had to be amputated. His positive demeanor remained, however, and after returning to Canada he married a volunteer aide who worked at the Toronto hospital where he was recuperating.

Christian received artificial limbs and lived a long and active life until his death in 1954. Active in Veteran’s causes, he was one of the more than 8,000 Veterans who were invited to France when the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was dedicated by King Edward VIII in July 1936.

Read more about his life story—including his role in the creation of VAC’s Attendance Allowance program—on the Mural of Honour*, which is permanently displayed at the Military Museums in Calgary. Mr. Christian is the 240th panel.

*The mural and its 240 panels represent Canada’s military history from the War of 1812 to Afghanistan. The collective stories reveal the different theatres of war Canadians have been involved in for nearly 200 years, including both overseas and domestic operations.

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