The First World War Armistice to end the horrors of four years of brutal war had been signed. At 11 am on November 11, 1918 all hostilities were to cease. As all combattants knew the cease fire was imminent, for the most part fighting had already ended. And yet..
And yet, just two minutes before the official cease-fire, Canadian George Price, 26, of Nova Scotia became the lasting symbol of the senselessness of war.
Tasked with securing bridges over the canal at Ville-sur Haine, Price was killed by a German sniper’s bullet at 10:58 becoming the last Canadian, the last Commonwealth, and possibly the last soldier to be killed in the war.
A memorial cairn was erected by the village in 1968 at the site by the canal where Price was killed and where ceremonies are held annually to remember his sacrifice.
The plaque on the cairn reads:
To the memory of Private George Lawrence Price 256265 of the 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division, killed in action near this spot at 10.58 hours, November 11th, 1918, the last Canadian soldier to die on the Western Front in the First World War. Erected by his comrades, November 11th, 1968.
Since 2014, local authorities have been working with Canadian officials and several artists to develop a memorial sculpture to honour the fallen Canadian in time for this 100th anniversary.
In 2016, Benoît Friart, bourgmestre in Le Roeulx, Belgium told the CBC “For us, in Le Roeulx, George Price is very important,” he said. “George Price symbolizes the sacrifice of thousands of young people, thousands of soldiers who came from far away to give us back the freedom.”
An unveiling ceremony of the new memorial will take place this week, with Canada’s Governor General in attendance.