The Last Drop of Blood Spilled - Private George Price
As I reflected on this first post-pandemic Remembrance Day, and what I would like to share, a name of a soldier came to mind that reconnected me to Belgium, and its liberation by Canadian Soldiers during the First World conflict.
Today, I would like to honor Private George Price, the last Canadian and Commonwealth soldier to fall in the First World War on Belgian soil, in the town of Ville-sur-Haine, 2 minutes before the armistice was officially proclaimed on Nov 11, 1918 at the eleventh hour.
At 7 am that morning, Private George Price and his Canadian Battalion marched in the main square of the Town of Mons as liberators to booming shouts of acclamation from the assembled population. Surrounding towns and villages still needed to be cleaned up from enemy presence. That was his duty that day. Sadly, 3 hours and 58 minutes later, in the nearby Town of Ville-sur-Haine, Private George Price would lose his life, gunned down by a single sniper bullet.
A teacher, who worked at Ville-sur-Haine at the time, came to attend him, but to no avail. She collected a fabric flower Private George Price had in his pocket. This velvet flower, shaped like a maple leaf and stained with blood, was then placed under glass with the following words from the teacher. It reads: “On this 11th of November 1918, at the ultimate moment when peace was signed, you fell for us – last victim of a sad conflict. Thank you, George Price! A drop of your blood soiled this simple flower you were hiding on your chest.”
Until 1968, the memory of Private George Price was celebrated each year in that town.
Indeed for the 50th anniversary of the Armistice, in 1968 Colonel McIntyre, who commanded the infantry battalion to which Private George Price belonged, initiated the necessary steps for a commemorative plaque to be attached to the front of the house where he had been shot two minutes before the end of the hostilities.
In 1994, this plaque was relocated on a stand alone monumentacross from the original house that had to be demolished to make way to new road ways. There Town officials and citizens of Ville-sur-Haine continued to commemorate annually the sacrifice of their Canadian liberators and especially to honor Canadian Private George Price who gave his life for their freedom. But they yet wanted to do better to preserve the memory for their posterity.
In May 2014, in the nearby Town of Roeulx, a Belgian-Canadian working group was struck to commission a new memorial to the memory of George Price that the Belgian People consider as an archetype of freedom.
The George Price Memorialinaugurated in 2015 is very symbolic. It is shaped as a falling drop of blood, that drop of blood that soiled the maple leaf in George Price’s pocket when he died on that liberation day. It is here that—from that year on—Canadian and Belgian Dignitaries, Canadian and Belgian Military, Canadian children from the Shape Nato Base near Mons and Belgian children from the George Price School nearby join together with the local citizens to commemorate Armistice Day.
May we remember Private George Price and all our fallen heroes and renew this day our commitment to never forget their ultimate sacrifice for the price of freedom and liberty that we enjoy in this beautiful country, our Canada. Lest we forget!
Speech given by Maggie Kronen, Mayor of Cardston, at the Remembrance Day Ceremony held on Novenber 11th, 2022 at the Cardston High School in Cardston, Alberta.