At 10:58 a..m. on 11 November 1918 a snipers’ rifle barked and the last Canadian to be killed in WW I lay dead on the street in Ville-sur-Haine, Belgium, just two minutes before the Armistice went into effect ending the War to End all Wars. Pvt. George Lawrence Price( age 20) was the last Canadian Soldier, Commonwealth Soldier, and possibly the last soldier in that War to be killed. Two minutes, 120 seconds before Peace and this young man lay dead in the street and a controversy would arise from this act of Fate. Why? Why was this young man dead? Why with just two minutes left were Germans and Canadians still killing each other? The simple answer, it was War but of course the real reason is more complicated.
The British Imperial Staff wanted Mons taken before the war ended. It was symbolic as it was there that the Brits first encountered the Germans and lost so they wanted that black mark revenged. Since 1917 the Canadian Corp had been the Shock Troops of the British Expeditionary Force and to them was given the task of retaking Mons. For the last 100 days of the war the Canadians had been in continuous combat advancing and retaking more territory than had been accomplished in the past 3 years. The Germans were merely prolonging the inevitable, they were beaten and hoped that through diplomacy they could get better surrender terms than on the battle field. On 10 November 1918 the push to retake Mons started by the time the Armistice went into place they were on the outskirts of that city and the last young soldier lay dead on the street short distance away.
When the war ended and the Canadians returned home Lt. General Sir Arthur Currie, Commanding the Canadian Expeditionary Force was attacked by political enemies, especially Sir Sam Hughes, the mentally unstable former Minister of War. Hughes and his cronies claimed that Currie had attacked Mons for personal glory thus slandering the man who had done so much to advance Canada’s Army and keep the casualties as low as was humanly possible. Granted Mons was a Symbol but it was also retaken for strategic reason to give the Canadians a better defensible position should the Armistice fail. So at 10:58 a.m., 11 November 1918, Fate decreed that Pvt. George Lawrence Price would step out of the building he had just help clear of German infantry and into the sights of a German Sniper. The Mauser barked once and Price lay dead in the street attaining the dubious distinction as the last Canadian killed in that abattoir called “The Western Front”.
When the Armistice was announced, future Lt. General Andy McNaughton was heard to say “The Bloody Fools. We’ve got them on the run. Now we will have to fight them all over again in 25 years”. In just under 21 years that statement would ring true and the world would be plunged into another bloodbath.
“In times of Peace, Sons bury their Fathers. In times of War Fathers bury their Sons.” :Herodotus
Price, George, Lawrence. Pvt. # 256365. 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade
2nd Canadian Division. Born 15 December 1892, Falmouth Nova Scotia. Buried:-St Symphorien Military Cemetery, South East of Mons, Belgium.
LEST WE FORGET.