The Battle of Vimy Ridge may have been 100 years ago, but it continues to have modern-day lessons for amputees like Rob Larman and Tiffany Ross of Toronto.
Larman, who lost his leg at the age of 14 when friends dared him to jump a train, now directs The War Amps PLAYSAFE Program, while Tiffany Ross, 10, was born a left arm amputee and is now a member of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program.
To mark the Vimy anniversary, they laid a rose at the grave of Ethelbert “Curley” Christian at Toronto’s Prospect Cemetery, in honour of the remarkable sacrifice Christian made at Vimy that continues to inspire young amputees today.
Christian lost all four limbs in the Vimy Battle and is believed to be the only quadruple amputee to have survived the First World War. Despite his grievous injuries, he became a leading member of the newly established War Amputations of Canada and even returned to the battlefield for the dedication of the Vimy Memorial in 1936.
“Curley Christian passed away in 1954, but he continues to have a legendary status in The War Amps for how he overcame his amputations, particularly at a time when disability was very much a hidden and taboo subject,” says Larman.
“Curley was there to offer assurance and advice to the Second World War amputees from someone who had been there, and after my accident, those veterans did the same for me. Now we older amputees pass along this support and legacy to young amputees like Tiffany,” says Larman.
He adds that laying a rose at Christian’s grave on behalf of The War Amps is both a way to honour him as a tremendous role model for amputees, and to put a face to the many Canadian soldiers who lost limbs at Vimy Ridge. “These young men showed great bravery both in fighting for their country and in readjusting to their new lives as amputees,” said Larman. “Through The War Amps, we will continue the work and the example left by war amputee veterans like Curley going long into the future.”