e last to die

Truro re­servists hear heart­break­ing story of Pri­vate Ge­orge Lawrence Price from Kings County


It was 10:58 a.m. when Pvt. Ge­orge Lawrence Price drew his nal breath and earned a place in his­tory.

Price was pa­trolling the streets of Ville-sur-haine in Bel­gium when a Ger­man sniper shot him through the chest.

Just two min­utes later, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, the guns fell silent and the First World War was over as Ar­mistice took e ect and Price be­came the last Bri­tish Em­pire sol­dier to fall in the First World War.

“It opened my eyes up to how in­tense it ac­tu­ally was,” said Cpl. Brent Garnhum from Truro. “It makes me happy to say that I can wake up in the morn­ing and put on this uni­form on Nov. 11. When I go and stand at the ceno­taph I’ll pay a lot more re­spect, now that I have an ac­tual pic­ture in my mind.”

Garnhum joined about 30 other army re­servists of the Nova Sco­tia High­landers (North) at their Truro head­quar­ters re­cently, lis­ten­ing in­tently as their padre, Rev. Ma­jor Dr. Tom Hamil­ton, told them about the day Price died.

Hamil­ton re­counted Price’s death from the per­spec­tive of his best friend, fel­low Pvt. Art Good­mur­phy, with whom he pa­trolled the streets of Ville-sur-haine on the war’s nal day.

“No more lice. No more rats. No more blood. No more death. I can hardly be­lieve that the war is nally over,” said Hamil­ton, speak­ing as Good­mur­phy just af­ter the ght­ing ended.

Most army units on both sides learned that Ar­mistice would take ef­fect at 11 a.m. lo­cal time, six hours af­ter the Al­lies and Cen­tral Pow­ers reached a cease­fire agree­ment. The mes­sage ltered down to front­line soldiers through­out the morn­ing.

But Price’s unit didn’t re­ceive word in time – and the war ended just min­utes too late for him. He died in Good­mur­phy’s arms as a young Bel­gian girl named Alice Grotte dashed across the street to help them. An­other Bel­gian fam­ily also tried in vain to re­vive Price.

“It’s pow­er­ful, it’s over­whelm­ing. It’s a part of our his­tory that we need to re­mem­ber – it’s a very sober­ing part of our his­tory and helps us to bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate what courage and sacri ce are all about,” said Hamil­ton.

Be­fore his death, Price led a fairly nor­mal life for a Cana­dian 100 years ago. Born in the Nova Sco­tia town of Port Wil­liams on Dec. 15, 1892, he moved west to work on a farm near Moose Jaw, Sask.

e First World War broke out in Au­gust 1914, but Price didn’t en­list for an­other three years. When he did, he started out with the 210th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (Fron­tiers­men) of the Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force and af­ter sev­eral trans­fers he ended up with the 28th Cana­dian In­fantry Bat­tal­ion by the spring of 1918. Af­ter ar­riv­ing in France, Price joined mil­lions of other soldiers thrown into the blood­shed of the West­ern Front, a net­work of trenches run­ning south from the English Chan­nel to the Swiss bor­der.

On Sept. 8, 1918, Price sur­vived a Ger­man chlo­rine gas at­tack in north­ern France, which sent him to hos­pi­tal and kept him out of ac­tion for nearly three weeks.

How­ever, the First World War was fi­nally draw­ing to an end af­ter four years of fight­ing. By now, Amer­ica had joined the Al­lies, ght­ing along­side the French, Bri­tish, Cana­dian and other forces push­ing the Ger­mans out of north­ern France in the Hun­dred Days O en­sive.

is o en­sive was in its very last min­utes when Price fell.

In an ironic twist, he was buried just feet away from Bri­tish Army Pri­vate John Parr, the rst sol­dier to die in the First World War.

Both men were in­terred at the St. Sym­phorien Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery in Bel­gium, near the town of Mons.


Rev. Ma­jor Dr. Tom Hamil­ton donned a First World War in­fantry­man’s uni­form to tell modern-day re­servists in Truro how Pri­vate Ge­orge Lawrence Price be­came the last Bri­tish Em­pire sol­dier to die in that con ict.

Pvt. Price

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.