Sir Arthur Currie was the first Canadian commander of Canada's overseas forces in World War I. While Currie did not look the part of a professional soldier, he is generally thought by historians to be the best military commander that Canada has produced. Currie was given command of a battalion in the first Canadian contingent sent to assist Britain in 1914, in spite of his then minimum experience. He advanced steadily, winning distinction at the battles of Ypres and Saint-Julien in Belgium and at the battle of Vimy Ridge in France. Within three years (in 1917) he became lieutenant general and commander of the four divisions of the Canadian Corps, succeeding the British general Sir Julian Byng. He lead the Canadian troops at Passchendaele, as well as other major battles. Currie was knighted in 1918. After the war he served as inspector general of the Canadian militia and became the first general in the Canadian Army. In 1920 he accepted the position of principal and vice chancellor of McGill University, Montreal, and retained this post until his death.