Canadian Medal of
I am sorry to say that I have yet to receive several items of confirmation re the next blog, that was to run today. If these are not received by Wednesday I will bring what I have that night rather than make you wait any longer.
Continuing with the theme of last week, I again this year bring you stories related to Black History Month. Mention was given to some of those written about in the past in this space. Names like black Medal of Honor recipients Joseph Noil, Joachim Pease and Robert Sweeney. I reminded you that much more than what was in the latest blog is available at this site by simply using the search engine at above right on this page.
Feedback tells me some of you have now done so. More should do so because in earlier blogs I often go into considerable detail about the Medal of Honor recipient, or others written about, and feel you should see the expanded stories as well as the latest snippets. Often these contain tidbits not readily available elsewhere.
Any serious writings about the Black soldiers and sailors and heroism is often incomplete and could be viewed as a disservice. I say this because far too often what is left out is the ugly head of racism. A scourge on mankind dating back centuries, not just in Canada and the US and England but elsewhere as well.
I am little qualified to take on the task of articulating this issue. Others hopefully will be ever watchful of these matters. But I have seen it regularly in the research being done regarding our military heroes,
But today's is a lead up...
As you can see, Timothy O'Hea (above) was not a Black man. Nor was he racist that we know of. But let's look at some other facts.
He was a soldier assigned to Canada from England. He was with a Sergeant and a handful of others who were to ride with a train west bound and traveling through the eastern townships of Quebec when he discovered the train almost on fire. It was attached to a passenger train. It also was concealing the transport of some 2000 rounds of ammunition, back in 1866, along with about 95 barrels of gunpowder en-route to the Lake Erie area to support the soldiers fearing impending Fenian attacks.
Also on board the same train were some 800 Doukhobor Immigrants heading to Western Canada.
The train was about to catch fire... and while the soldiers abandoned their posts for protection the lone O'Hea made 19 trips to gather a pail-full of water to throw on the smouldering mess. It did not explode and the immigrants were saved.
Each was LOCKED in carriage cars at the time. This was to prevent them leaving the train before arriving out west.
Racism at best!
Ohea's deed earned him a Victoria Cross, the only one in the history of the VC to be awarded for action on soil from what would, a year later become known as CANADA. Canadian. (Though others were presented within what was later Canada as well.)
We now jump forward from 1866 to 1946 and travel eastbound from Quebec to Nova Scotia. You will hopefully recall the story I brought a few weeks back about Viola Desmond and the new Canadian $10 bills recently issued for circulation.
Above we see the new bill front at right, and reverse at left that features her image. The bill is the first in Canada ever to have the major feature inverted to a standing position and requiring the bill to be turned on its end for proper viewing. It is also the first with a non-royal woman, and for a black Canadian. It of course has her in a standing position as she stood up... for her rights!
It all started with her being refused to be allowed to remain in a main floor movie house seating, back in 1946, whilst all black people were "required" to seat in an upper balcony.
The issues raised by her, would be similar to the bus boycott after the conviction in 1955 of Alabama's famous Rosa Parks' case where the black woman refused to give up seating so that a white passenger could sit. A case that is well known across North America and happening nine years after the Canadian case.
But like the Eveready Battery, the Canadian Mint keeps on giving!
A few weeks ago the Mint and Canadian government revealed a new 99.999 silver 20$ collector coin that also depicts Viola Desmond on it. As you can see above, it has a duplicate of her actual signature, and the double date of 1919 and 1965 for her years of birth and passing. The coin set will come complete with an actual ten dollar bill as shown above and a certificate of authenticity and will be made available in July, her month of birth.
Purchasing details are on the net and those interested should remember that there is a limited production run so order early.
I will be away on the 10th so the next blog will be on the 17th. Hope to see you then.
For the 6th year in a row I have brought you some news about Black History Month, now celebrated in the US, England and Canada. Back in the early 1920's the celebration of blacks, and remembrance of what they gave for their countries first started out with just a week of celebrations in the US.
It was then known as Negro History Week, and included the
1809 birth date of President Abraham Lincoln on 12 February (at left) and the 1818 birth date of Frederick Douglass in 14 February. The later being a former slave and prominent leader of the abolitionist movement of the era.
The week of recognition has over recent decades turned into a month of celebrating. Soon it could be a daily event, as it is so very much needed. I invite you to visit Canadian Senator Don Oliver's comments on how little we have really advanced regarding prejudice and racism. These can be read at.. http://theath.ca/opinions/senator-donald-oliver-60-we-still-need-a-black-history-month/
The senator played a role in creating the month, many years ago. He is Canada's first ever Black senator, and still so serves with incredible distinction.
More in line with the theme of these blogs, a fellow in the US once said that.. "The price of freedom has always been high, but we as Americans have always paid this. This is especially true of America's Black Navy Men."
The speaker was John Fitzgerald Kennedy!
Over about the last 2 decades I have been researching the Canadians and those with close connection to Canada that became military heroes. Men who were awarded the United State's Medal of Honor for bravery. They served in not only the navy, and marines and coast guard but also all sectors of the army and air force. My numbers of recipients have more than doubled what most on the net would have you believe. Well over 400 stories have appeared on these pages. Several dozen others stories have covered Victoria Cross recipients and related matters.
In the 1960's a series of recruitment posters were created for the US Navy. Above is one depicting the Pease story. Internet reference materials tell us that there were three black Canadian Medal of Honor recipients... Joachim Pease, Robert Sweeney and Joseph Noil... all being navy men. All worthy of attention during this and every Black History Month.
Pease was thought to have come from Fogo Island in Newfoundland, or Long Island New York but this has been challenged and his home was probably in Cape Verde. Nevertheless, some thinking he was from Canada, I originally listed him as one recipient of interest to this space.
Pease was working one of the main guns on the deck of the USS Kersarge off the coast of Cherbourge France in June 1864 when it came into contact, after over a year's searching...with the dreaded Southerner's CSS Alabama. A battle broke out and the Alabama surrendered. Pease's gun being so accurate, the enemy actually put a price on his head. His commander recommended the MOH and described him as being one of his best men.
The battle was one of the most famous, and also most interesting of the Civil War and can be searched on this site.
In the 1960's the US Government created some navy recruiting posters, Above is one depicting the Pease story, Below is one covering the Noil story. Pease's actual medal of honor is shown above as well. It gives his name, the battle, location and date of battle.
Many blogs and updates have appeared here on the Joseph Noil story. After serving 17 years in the navy he died at a naval hospital outside of the DC area and was buried under the wrong name for over 130 years and without any details of his being a MOH recipient for life saving. Years ago the grave was finally found and after some 8 years of work a new marker was unveiled in a most formal ceremony.
As you can see from the old unreadable marker, (above, at left) there is quite a difference now in the story the viewer gets as he or she visits the site.
At this time he is believed to be the lone Canadian Black MOH recipient. He was born in Nova Scotia, possibly at Liverpool. Search this site for more details. There were about 90 Black Medals of Honor awarded. Noil's was number 6.
Robert Sweeney, shown above, was not one MOH recipient, but in fact two, both for saving lives of crew-mates who fell over board, one in 1881 and another in 1883. He is credited as being one of the 19 double recipients on record. Trouble is there were not 19.. but 21, details of which are elsewhere on this site.
In the above image, he appears to be wearing either one of his Medals of honor or the Grand Army membership badge. The image quaility is too poor to be sure.
Many reference sources tell us that he was from Montreal or Boston but in fact he was not a Canadian and is believed to have come from Montserrat.
Again his story is told elsewhere on the site. But all three are most interesting and should be revisited during Black History Month.
More in a special blog on Wednesday or Thursday.
Last week's blog told of a new Medal of Honor museum coming to the state of Tennessee. Part of its exhibit will focus on those MOH recipients who of course came from that state.
Pictures of these heroes on the site, include one they and so many others on the net claim is George. But all have it wrong. Same for most who get his age, place of birth and in fact even his name wrong. And we can blame George for most of this!
George first joined the US army, on 4 August 1868 by enlisting with D Company of the 15th US Infantry at Memphis. Thus their claim to state MOH status. The paperwork claimed that he was 26 years old and born in Pulsaki County Illinois.
How and when he arrived in the US remains a mystery. However research has shown that George was not 26 but 29 when enlisted. While his actual date of birth remains a mystery also, he was christened on either 1 or 4 August 1839 in the Parish of Boughton Aluph, Kent, England. And his birth name was Stephen...not George. There were 9 children in the family. The youngest was brother George, the name Stephen chose when enlisting or perhaps on arrival, in North America.
It seems that as a youth he was involved in a serious aggravated assault on another, charged and fined. Suggestions have it that he fled the country and came to the US, perhaps to avoid the scandal, or the fine. The changed name would make it difficult for the family to find him, and prevent the military rejecting him as unfit for service.
George's trek of some 300 miles south east from Pulaski and the joining of the military would see the start of probably thousands of miles of horseback riding in uniform for close to 20 years, He'd serve with the 25th as above noted, then the 14th Infantry, the 7th US Cavalry, 23rd Infantry, back to the 7th, and finally with the St Louis Powder Depo at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri.
This service was not continuous, as he took several breathers between some of the enlistments, taking on other jobs but eventually again returning to the uniform.
Over much of this time George would find himself in the thick of skirmishes with the native Americans. The white's would keep pushing the natives away from areas they wanted to inhabitate and the Natives were losing the fight for serviceable lands for their way of life. Atrocities would take place small and large and often caused by either or both sides much of the time.
It would be close to the the Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota where the actions of George and about 19 other US Soldiers later resulted in receiving Medals of Honor.
The events have both sides blaming the other for the slaughter that became famous as the Wounded Knee Massacre by the natives and the less alarming Pine Ridge Campaign (describing the larger campaign) for the 7th US Cavalry.
While the natives were performing their Ghost Dances the whites were getting ever more concerned that the dance was about to lead into to full scale battle, and thus the 7th were sent in with overwhelming numbers of troopers and 4 Hotchkiss guns, to "settle" the natives down and get into their camp to disarm them, though few were apparently armed.
On 29 December 1890, while several versions of the story exist, the first shot of a rifle went out. Others very soon followed by both sides. It would not be long before it was all over. But by then between 250 and 300 native men women and children lay dead on the ground, as did some 25 soldiers. To these can be added about 80 other Natives and Cavalrymen who were wounded. Reports claim that most of the natives were unarmed.
Later investigations lambasted the army leadership on site and later calls for rescinding medals of Honor have not resulted in same. Various arguments introduced were interesting as none seemed to be of consideration during the famous days on the 1916 purge of the 27th Maine medals and a few others, noted often in this space.
RULES FOR SOME, SOME OF THE TIME l GUESS!
This sketch shows the tents of the natives and the cavalry surrounding them. Note that A is at center of map and facing to the right as you look at it, and B is at the bottom facing up. George was in A and another fellow by the name of Marvin Hillock was in B. There are thoughts that Marvin Hillock, a Pte, may have some Canadian connections but more work need to be done on this.
Regardless, you can easily see that because of the ridiculous positioning of the soldiers, during the battle they were all firing inbound.. possibly hitting some of their own men.
Six months later, on 23 June 1891 George was awarded a Medal of Honor with the citation... Conspiculous and gallant conduct in battle.
This is his very medal, though the complete citation has been reduced due to space to simply say it is for bravery at Wounded Knee. Note also it is in its very own presentation box. Most medals have long since been separated from these treasured boxes. Note also that for the very first time you see his last name...Hobday.
Within 6 months he would be dead, having succumbed to double pneumonia while stationed to to the Jefferson Barracks in Montana and is today at rest in their cemetery.
In apparent attempt to keep in tradition with this case, it seems the creators of this marker not only misspelled the surname of HOBDAY by using HOLDAY, but they also give no indication that this man was a Medal of Honor recipient.
Our group, the Medal of Honor Historically Society of the US discovered this back on 2004 and took steps to correct it.
Here is the new marker...
And finally, the picture at above left and right are widely circulated on the net and identified as being of George Hobday.
This in incorrect. The fellow appears to be far to young, but stronger still, is the fact that he is very much alive whilst wearing the Medal of Honor from Civil War days... AND the replacement medal not created until the early 1900's and over a dozen years AFTER HE HAD DIED.
After George's death, his medal was sent to his father back in England. When the father died it was sent to Canada where the real George was then living. Upon his death the medal went to George's daughter. It is thought the medal found a home in Ontario possibly, then Alberta and farther west later still and may have been in the country for decades before being sent off by unknown persons back to London and auctioned off in 2014.
I'll be back in TWO weeks.
Surely after 129 years the internet should get the Medal of Honor man's name, date and location of birth and picture right. But not so!
Today's blog starts with a story coming out of Chattanooga Tenneesee.
For years the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Center has operated honouring the military and spanning the years from the days of the revolution till now. Exhibits telling the stories of the veterans, with an emphasis on the Medal of Honor recipients and with close attention to those connected with the state are throughout the premises.
Regular visitors to this blog have read of the first Medals of Honor back in 1863. These went to some 19 union men who seized the train engine called the General and a few box cars and set off in enemy territory to destroy bridges and telegraph lines, disrupt the flow of trains and supplies and hopefully cut the days the war would last. Chattanooga played a role in that historic event, as do its displays within the MOH Center.
The center is named after Tech Sergeant C. Coolidge, a MOH recipient from WW11. It is unknown if he is related to the former President of the same name. But never the less the center gives honourable mention to the President including the display of images.
Below we see the President presenting the Medal of Honor first to Commander Richard Byrd and then Mechanic Floyd Bennett at the White House after their flight over Canada to the North Pole in and 1926.
Commander Byrd receives his Medal of Honor while mechanic Bennett awaits at the President"s back for his own medal. The following year the President would also present the medal to Charles Lindbergh for his non stop solo flight over Canada's east coast and across the Atlantic. Blogs here tell each story.
In this exhibit we see what appears to be a Revolutionary War uniform and musket. The stock of the muskets were made of a special very durable wood called Purple Heart. It of course was well looked after by its holders. Behind this on the wall is a double frame. In its lower portion is a most rare Badge of Military Merit.
It has been said that the badge reflected the Purple Heart wood of the musket, and the cloth in the shape of a heart, again due to the fondness the men held in their very weapon of the day. Only a handful of these clothe patches...or badges were awarded. The paperwork coming with the medal came to a Montrealer as noted in a past blog. But it is not known if he also got the clothe badge.
Here is today's Purple Heart. Records were not always kept on the awarding of the medal but estimates say over 1.8 million were issued since introduced by General MacArthur in 1942..His being the first by receipt. But since it was made retroactive to 1917 the first did not go to a man. It went to a Woman. A nurse.
And here is that woman. Her name was Chief Nurse Mary MacDonald. And she was not even an American. She was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Getting back to the museum, its many many artifacts, exhibits and more having probably outgrown their current location. For years they have been planing a new facility, expected to occupy some 19,000 square feet and to have its opening in February of next year.
As I looked over the news announcements I discovered a sketch of the new facility...
and of particular interest to me, was a series of pictures of about 3 dozen Medal of Honor recipients either from, or connected to the state of Tennessee.
The second fellow in this picture is of George, but that's not his real name.
Great information has just come in and added to my own collected over the years. This needs some touch ups, and so I will end this brief intro to the "George" story for today.
While I announced recently that I will only be doing blogs twice a month now, I will bring you a special blog next Sunday and tell you all about George.
Hope to see you then,
Back in January 2017 the US government Department of Defense site created a new blog entitled Medal of Honor Monday.
In these, various writers would take an entire blog to feature the story of one of over 3500 MOH recipients. (Today there are only about 75 still living) I have followed many of these stories and found them to be well informed and bringing forth a lot of history that needs to be preserved. At least one has been written about a Canadian hero.
And despite current thoughts on too many fronts, the immigrant born population of recipients are getting good coverage in this space as well. Kudo's to all involved.
If you go to... flipboard.com/topic/departmentofdefense/medal-of-honor-monday%3A-army-1st-lt.-george-e.-davis/f-a8fbbae66d%2Fdefense.gov
you will see an early January 2019 blog about American born Lt George DE Davis who earned a MOH at the Battle of Monocacy back in 1864.
In this battle The Confederates were on the March with Washington DC in their sites... and not far off. The Union army scrambled troops to Monocacy and despite high odds against them... and in a Union loss, the actions still managed to save some time to allow the DC defenses to get in place to prevent the Confederate attacks and saving the capital.
Davis's story is told in the blog. There is also a one liner saying that another fellow also earned a MOH in the battle. There would be only 2 for the 10 hour encounter and the very grounds fought over would be in the only battle of the war that would be on Union ground... the first ever for the Southerners and in a battle that also marked the furthest north the Southerners had fought on.
The 2nd Medal of Honor would go to a Montrealer by the name of Alexander Scott. His fascinating story as a spy, a private to Captain, his refusal to accept a promotion so that he could stay with the honourable colour guard and so much more can be read in one of my earliest blogs back on May 16 2013. Use the date list at right and above... to pull up the article.
This image shows Cpl., later Captain Alexander Scott wearing his Medal of honor at the left, as you look at the image, and his membership badge at the Grand Army of the Republic at the right.
Please check out the earlier column on this Canadian. There are a lot of interesting facts therein.
Having written well over 450 stories in this space, most of the Canadian connections have been covered. I am now heavily into the coverage of updating stories and telling others that I think would be of interest to you folks.
This being said, It is time to accomodate other matters that require more research and less blog time.
Thus, effective with this blog, I will be bringing you a new story every two weeks and unless news flashes come my way, the blog is, effective immediately, a twice monthly blog, starting with the next coming in 2 weeks.
I hope you will understand and accept this and not become a stranger to the site,
While I took a week off the blogs for the Xmas holidays, I did not pass on the best of wishes for your Christmas in a timely manner. Sorry my friends.
My belated message is contained in this story I found on the net. It is most interesting, and whatever your religious background, I encourage you to take a break, right now to see this message. It is known as the Soldier's Deck of Cards, involves a little magic and is found by going to... www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGPKpIuX3c
Turn your speakers on and please return when you are finished.
While I am not religious, I found it quite a nice message to send to the soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines, coast guard or other services in your lives today.
And to those serving, or not, and find them selves on the laid off, or worse yet forced to work without pay during the current shutdown side, remember that it will not last long and then the cheques will start rolling again.
Back in 2013 during Sept/Oct I was in the US doing research and lost about 1/3rd of my research time due to access denials because of the shut down then. And boy did I hear from the serving and otherwise who thought little of the politicians who chose could not do the jobs they were hired to do at DC and to work for Americans instead of one side versus the other and resulting in that shut down.
Perhaps the people should insist that when the politicians cannot keep themselves on the job, those very politicians should have their pays frozen until the very day they open them back up for the rest of those who they chose to inflict.
Better yet, each should have pay deductions for the days they were awol from their jobs.
Several weeks ago I started to bring you what I thought was to be one blog about my net surfing, and finding this strange image. The blog was to tell you what it is and why the related image (below) equally caught my eye.
. As you now have hopefully read in the past two blogs, the first image above, in the shape of a drop of blood or a tear drop represents part of the story of a Nova Scotia born Pte who lost his life in WW1 in Belgium.
Pte George Price, just minutes before the Armistice of November 18th, 1918 was to take effect, Price and three others bravery ran across open ground and a bridge on their own and without orders. They suspected a squad of Greman machine gunners were hidden and awaiting a larger force's attempt to cross over.
While the Armistice was to become effective at 11 a.m., it was just minutes before when the four chased the enemy through two homes and then Price exited the doorway onto the street and got shot in the back from a sniper a long distance way.
It was just three minutes before the Armistice ended the war. His death would be the last British Commonwealth death of the war.
At death it was discovered that he was carrying with him a clothe flower shaped like a maple leaf. It was found with a drop of his blood on it.... the theme of the above memorial that was being unveiled in the very village where he lost his life.
Soldiers representing regiments that earned battle honours from Belgiun in the great war, represented their regiments at the most prestigious event. In the above image we see the Right Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, and Princess Astrid of the Belgian Royal Family about to participate in the dedication and unveiling of the Price Memorial on 10 November. (The following day she had to be in Ottawa for ceremonies there.
The dignitaries are about to inspect the honour Guard. And the 2nd soldier in from the right marker is Master Corporal Danny Das Neves proudly wearing the famed Hodden Grey kilt of the Toronto Scottish Regiment, oft mentioned in these blogs. The Tor Scots proudly are the descendants of the 75th overseas battalion of WW1 who fought in Belgium and elsewhere and came home with 16 battle honours and a very long and deep list of casualties that paid with their lives for these honours.
In July 1915 Colonel Beckett, commanding Officer of the Mississauga Horse was authorized to raise a new regiment.. the 75th Overseas Battalion.
Within 3 weeks he had signed up over 1400 troops. In March of 1916 Beckett, as the CO of the 75th took his regiment overseas to do most honorable service.
By war's end the 75th would receive over 240 special awards including the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal,
Military Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Belgian Croix de Guerre. Many of these were awarded to more than one soldier of the unit, who's members also got some 26 MID's.
Here we see our Governor General and Aide de Camp at the podium as the GG addresses the dignitaries and members of the public and military gathered at the event. Behind stands the Price Memorial.
Behind the veterans and their flags appears to be the canal and beyond that several men standing in the area where..just off to the right it is believed the houses stood where George Price and the three other soldiers attacked the German machine gunners.
Above is a newer foot bridge named also in honor of Price and noted in the last blog. The lower picture seems to have the memorial chopped off but you can see the area where it stands and the Price bridge as well from a slightly different angle.
Our Governor General lays a wreath in honour of Nova Scotia's George Price.
Danny from the Tor Socts tells me that he has been in the reserves for just under a dozen years and no doubt looks forward to his Canadian Forces Decoration medal in the not to distant future.
He was thrilled to be selected to represent the storied Toronto Scottish at this ceremony in Belgium and participated in many events and tours to various battle sites and grave yards. He even stood in front of the very grave marker for George Price and provided pictures of it and several others for me and this blog. On one of the tours he visited the German trench lines at Vimy,
He explains that at several points the lines were only a stone's throw away from the Allies.
Here we see two different trenches rebuilt over the years of course. On the right the round fixture is a Machine Gun pit from where the enemy fired from within the trench but with protection.
Here we see Master Corporal Danny Das Neves standing in front of the International famous Vimy monument.
Here we see him at the Mons Municipal Cemetery where some 46 soldiers from Britain's Royal Middlesex Regiment at rest.after giving their all in the Greta War.
Again getting fer too long, so I will close.
I will not be bloggonh next Sunday but will return the following week, cheers all and have a great bew years.
As noted last week, Nova Scotia born George Price was killed in action just a few minutes before the Armistice to end WW l was to take effect.
I first learned of this story just a few weeks ago while doing other research and stumbling upon a very strange looking marker. Investigating further I also saw an image of a guard of honour. It seemed to be made up with men from several regiments. One stood out to me instantly. He was wearing the kilt of the Toronto Scottish Regiment. One of my old units.
Thus my digging in to get the full story, which I started to bring you last week.
While researching, it reminded me that there is a reoccurring theme that crops up regularly about Canadian war heroes. Be it a Victoria Cross or Medal of Honor recipient, our Iran hostage heroes, the men of the Devil's Brigade, those who played such instrumental roles in the Great Escape, and fellows like George Price, shown here. (Probably before he joined the army.)
Heroes all, that are well represented by various forms of commemoration in far away lands, yet so sparsely honoured here at home in Canada.
This map covers about a dozen kms to the north east and south east of the Mons area of Belgium. To the left (west) of Mons some 100 kms is the famous Vimy Ridge. In the immediate area of this map, about 280 Canadians would be
either killed, wounded or became Missing In Action in the 2 days leading up to the 11 a.m. November 11th Armistice.
At the top of the heavy blue line is a village called Sur Haine. This is where a sniper's bullet took the life of George Price with one shot into the chest from the back. It came from up an incline some distance off and out of Price's sight.
Within minutes the Canadian was dead. He has been claimed to be the last soldier from the Commonwealth to be KIA in the war. He was buried in the immediate area at the Town of Havre's Communal Cemetery.
In 1958 Price's remains were removed and laid to rest at the Military Cemetery at Saint Symphorien. (Shown above at bottom of heavy blue line.) In the same cemetery also at rest is Lt. Maurice J Dease an Irishman and British Officer who's award of the Victoria Cross in August of 1914 was the first such award in the war. Also at rest in this same cemetery is Pte. John Parr of the 4th Bn,.. Middlesex Regiment who was KIA 21 Aug. 1914, the first of the commonwealth to die in action in the war.
Price's actions would be memorialized in several ways over the years including last month.
To begin, on the 50th anniversary of his death, a contingent of still living veterans of the very battle from the 28th North West Battalion, Sask. Regiment, (now the Regina Rifles Regiment) visited the Price grave. While there they also unveiled a memorial tablet that was affixed on the side of a wall of one of the very houses Price and the three others tried to clear back in 1918.
Here is that plaque...
The plaque of course told of the 11 November sacrifice of George Price, and gave details of his last minutes of life presumably.
Over the years it was decided to widen the canal, which runs off to the left and under the footbridge, shown above. To do this several homes had to be removed. One of these had the plaque fastened to it side. Above we see the plaque almost in its original position but now without the house.
Here we see the posthumous British War Medal and Victory Medal and also the memorial plaque, also known as the dead Man's Penny. Over 1.3 million who served and lost their loves during the Great War were awarded this medal. It is engraved..."he died for freedom and honour." Some 600 were awarded to women with the sex altered accordingly. The plaque had the name of the deceased, but no rank as all were to be treated equally.. The family donated these items to a Nova Scotia Legion in the 1960's or 70's.
Here we again see the marker along the canal memorializing George Price, but with some improvements in the 1980's.
It appears that in about 1991 and old motor vehicle bridge was replaced crossing the canal, and as shown in the above picture. That year this new bridge... a walking bridge..or footbridge if you will,..was dedicated to and named after Pte. George Price of Nova Scotia.
In April 2015 quite a crowd from Canada and Belgium gathered near where George fell to his death to rename a public school in his name. Here is a picture of the events that day...
Several hundred officials, bureaucrats, school leaders military from Canada and Belgium, and students gathered in Ville-Sur-Haines in 1915 to rename their municipal school after George Price. Here we see an official presenting an artistic sketch of the school to the Canadian Ambassador to Belgium, his honour Denis Robert.
Those living in Ottawa or planning a trip to the capital are encouraged to visit the incredible Canadian War Museum down town. It is just minutes walking distance from the Parliament buildings.
There you will find an exhibit for WW1 and within it, the medals donated by the price family and the Royal Canadian Legion.
Next week I will bring the final blog on this subject with the issues that first got me going on it...
see you then
Tonight's blog is taking longer than expected, and so will not run till tomorrow night. Sorry folks!
There are hundreds of Canadian first's listed in the 1936 book... "First Things in Acadia." But I don't think there are any Lasts" That's a Shame!
You can read to your heart's content about the first ever print press in Canada, the first post office and the first Canadian to die in the Boer War. Plow through the stories about the world's first coloured Victoria Cross recipient, our first lighthouse and the first divorce ever. He got off but she was forbidden from again getting married before he died, and had to leave Nova Scotia within ten days. There are hundreds of great tidbits. but there is nothing about George being... not the first... bit the LAST one.
Starting at the beginning, he was of course born ... in Nova Scotia in the small community of only a few thousand called Falmouth near Windsor. He got basic education, became a labourer, farmer, lumberman and handyman of sorts, but soon sought more opportunity and headed out west in 1916, and about 24 years of age. At Moose Jaw Saskatchewan he had hopes of working to help bring in the harvest and go from there.
Apparently he worked for a while for the CPR but then got a farming job. But that led to troubles. The farm owner was a widow and at one point owed him salary that she couldn't pay. So he decided to help himself... to the tune of about $25 worth of her possessions including some bedding. He was charged and the court's were not impressed with him. He was sentenced to one month of hard labour.
And when that was over he found himself conscripted into the Canadian army.
George would move through a few units before getting to his final unit of choice..the 28th Brigade, Canadian Expeditionary Forces.
He enlisted at first with the 1st Saskatchewan Depot Battalion, 4 Dec. 1917, left St John's aboard the HM Soctian 21 Jan. 1918, arrived at Liverpool 6 Feb. 1918 and by May was in France. By June he finally arrived with the 28th, as possibly shown above. While in France he was gassed and spent a month between a Casualty Aid Station and a general hospital before returning to his regiment.
It would be on 11 November 1918 that the Armistice to end the war was signed at about 5 am. It would take hours to get the message out to all concerned. Some may have never gotten it. So claimed some in the 28th.
Their job that day was to sweep the area between Frameries at the bottom left and Ville-sur-Haine to ensure all bridges were secured along a canal. This area is about 60 Km south West of Brussels as you can see in above map.
The objectives of the 28th were reached, but upon getting to Ville-Sur-Haine the troops found themselves along side another canal with open fields on their side, and several houses across the canal, just a stone's throw away.
Some say a patrol of four men were looking for better protection for the regiment within the homes across the canal. Others say one of the men saw movement in the area. He then asked three others if they would go with him on a patrol because German Machine Gun nests were known to be operating in the area.
The four, without official approval, took off across a bridge and then started to take enemy fire, saw Germans heading into one of the houses and they gave chase. They kicked down the door but the enemy was then escaping out the back. Entering the second house, they again found Germans fleeing out the back.
George , stepped out the front door, a bang was heard and he dropped into the arms of a mate. He was shot dead by a sniper off some distance and up an incline.
It was three minutes to eleven and the time that the Armistice ending the war was to begin. Within a minute he was dead.
George Lawrence Price that moment became Canada's, and the British Commonwealth's last soldier to die in the Great War.
Later that day a few miles to the West at Mons, the street was filled with civilians and Canadian Troops celebrating the end of the war. George's ended hours earlier!
George was buried at the old Havre communal cemetery at first but in 1948 his remains were moved to the Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery at Mons and given the new marker shown below. . The old marker is now at the Museum in Mons.
At the Peace Tower in Ottawa there are held 7 different Books of Remembrance listing the names of over 118,000 service members who have lost their lives in the service of Canada in the two World Wars, Korea, South Africa War, Merchant Navy, one for Newfoundland and yet another in the works for the War of 1812. Below is the Great War's book opened to page 487.
It lists George Price in the right hand column at the first break. At the left side one soldier at the top and bottom come from the 75th Overseas Expeditionary Force, a unit that after WW l became known as the Toronto Scottish and of which I am a former member. I shall make several more comments about George, and the 75th in the next blog, as this one is getting long.
But I would like to point out on each on these Remembrance pages it shows a date when that page will be on display in Ottawa. Check out your relative and plan a trip around visiting this incredible artifact.
Also note that if you scroll down the page enough it lists all the names from the scroll and by clicking on these you can get some further info and possibly even the link directly to their WW1 attestation papers.
See you next week with more on George and the 75th and a wonderful even that just occurred in Europe in November.
Till then, as they say in the Tor Scots...