Ethelbert (Curley) Christian was born on April 15, 1883, in Homestead, Pennsylvania. He travelled widely prior to his military service, working along the coasts of North and South America as a chain maker, cook, brick layer and on a tramp steamer.
He settled in Manitoba and enlisted with the 108th Battalion. Once overseas, he was transferred to the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). During the Battle of Vimy Ridge, he was crushed under dirt from an exploding shell and buried for two days before being found alive.
Mr. Christian lost both arms and legs to gangrene and was believed to have been the only surviving quadruple amputee of the First World War.
Many members of The War Amps considered him an inspiration to all amputees and were quick to think, “If Curley can do it, I can!”
Mr. Christian returned to Vimy with his fellow war amputees in 1936 for the unveiling of the Vimy Ridge Memorial.
“When you are surrounded by others who are accomplishing things, it stimulates you to try. Today, there are young fellows coming back with arms or legs gone. They're diffident, bashful, frightened. You can never know the misery they suffer mentally as well as physically. At [The War Amps] that vanishes. We're all among our own kind. We boost each other mentally and we learn things physically.”
Mr. Christian passed away on March 15, 1954, and is buried in Prospect Cemetery in Toronto.
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